Opinion: ARM's refocus is good; suits a sale: Page 3 of 3

July 08, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Opinion: ARM's refocus is good; suits a sale
ARM's decision to refocus on its core business of semiconductor IP creation looks like an about-turn. It is welcome but comes with numerous caveats.

Some people have even suggested that SoftBank might be preparing to return ARM to one of its original parents, Apple. Those with long memories may remember that ARM was founded as Advanced RISC Machines Ltd. by Apple Computer, Acorn Computers, VLSI Technology Inc. and, as I remember, a Japanese investment house.

However, Apple buying ARM would seem like a potential destroyer of value rather than an enhancer.

Some thought that Apple might bail out its supplier of graphics technology Imagination Technologies Group plc but instead it offered employment contracts to some of Imagination's brightest and best (see Apple hires group of UK GPU engineers) which precipitated the eventual sale of Imagination to private equity (see Opinion: China has had its way with Imagination).

The same logic indicates Apple won't be buying ARM. ARM is worth more doing what it has always done, designing semiconductor IP for the many with customization and additional support for the few. Even though Apple is one of the few institutions that could afford a several-billion-dollar price tag I don't think Apple wants to get in to the semiconductor IP business.

But maybe an IPO with Apple as an anchor investor seeking to look after its architectural interests could make sense. But an IPO is a remarkably open and flexible route to go down during these times of US-China trade tension verging into a cold war.

It has to be remembered that China already has its teeth into ARM (see Opinion: ARM's trouble in China was waiting to happen). Yes, the possibility of the sale of ARM begs the biggest question of all. Are Apple and the US and UK governments concerned if Chinese investment takes control of ARM and do Segars and Son care?

Related links and articles:


News articles:

ARM to refocus on chip IP, let go IoT businesses

Apple confirms switch to ARM-based processors for Mac computers

SiFive creates global network of RISC-V startups

Dipesh Patel takes over as CTO of ARM

Apple hires group of UK GPU engineers

Opinion: China has had its way with Imagination

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