SoftBank said to have approached Apple to gauge interest in chip design firm Arm
- The two firms have had preliminary discussions, but Apple is not planning to pursue a bid in SoftBank’s chip design firm Arm, according to sources
- Arm’s technology is used in Apple’s iPhones, as well as in many devices by Samsung, Google, Amazon and Microsoft
The two firms had preliminary discussions, but Apple is not planning to pursue a bid. Arm’s licensing operation would fit poorly with Apple’s hardware focused business model. There may also be regulatory concerns about Apple owning a key licensee that supplies so many rivals. Representatives from SoftBank and Apple declined to comment.
It is rare for Apple to make big acquisitions. SoftBank acquired Arm in 2016 for US$32 billion. That is more than 10 times larger than Apple’s biggest acquisition to date, its US$3 billion deal for Beats Electronics in 2014.
Still, the Cupertino, California-based technology giant has a vested interest the fate of Arm. The chip designer’s technology is an important part of the more than 2 billion custom processors that Apple has shipped in iPhones and other devices over the past decade. Mac computers will start relying on the technology later this year.
Apple has been involved in similar situations with other partners in the past. When Toshiba was selling its flash memory business in 2017, Apple invested as part of a consortium. The US company played a central role in resolving the auction because flash memory chips are used in every iPhone and iPad for storing data. The deal helped keep this corner of the chip market competitive and improved Apple’s negotiating position.