Yesterday news broke that Nvidia has acquired the British chip company ARM from Japanese Softbank for $40bn (roughly £31bn).
Given that Apple uses ARM-based processors in several of its products (including the iPhone and iPad currently, and its Macs in the near future), many had thought that the American electronics giant would get its hands on ARM. Apple isn’t short of cash, and the deal appeared to make perfect sense. Why didn’t it happen?
According to the experts, it would have been difficult for Apple to push through an acquisition of ARM, as the competition authorities would very likely have raised objections to the deal. They may have feared, for example, that an ARM-owning Apple could have halted the licensing of ARM technology to other manufacturers of computers, tablets and mobile phones.
We suspect that Apple leadership will be particularly sensitive to accusations of anticompetitive at the moment. Since the start of 2020 the company has been deluged with such claims.
In July the US House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee grilled Tim Cook over Apple’s treatment of its app developer partners, while the EU is looking into similar matters; Italian regulators are investigating the company’s partnership with Amazon and the iCloud terms and conditions; and this month Australia became the latest country to announce a probe into Apple’s dealings.
In other words, Apple probably thought the potential benefits of an ARM acquisition – even assuming it was able to get the deal past regulators – wouldn’t be worth the political fallout.
In all probability, Nvidia will stick to previously entered-into agreements, so we can depend on ARM-based processors continuing to appear in future iPhones and iPads. The deal could result in Apple buying more components from Nvidia in the long run, in fact, as it may be able to secure more favourable package prices.
This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation by David Price.