Cupertino, California-based consumer electronics giant, Apple, Inc, rocketed to the top spot for personal computing devices that use chipsets with technology from British chip design house Arm Ltd. Apple shocked the computing world in 2020 when it announced a much-anticipated decision to adopt custom processors for its notebook lineup. Apple is the only company in the world to have used proprietary systems on chips (SoCs) on its smartphones at the time, and the move to Arm for the MacBook lineup reflected the company’s design power and confidence with its proprietary technologies.
Now that more than a year has passed since the pivotal shift to Arm, the results are out, and research firm Strategy Analytics reveals that Apple dominated the market for personal computers using Arm processors. Other gadgets aside from Macbooks that use these processors are Google’s Chromebooks that use Qualcomm Incorporated’s Snapdragon lineup alongside processors from Taiwanese company MediaTek.
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The Strategy Analytics report came out earlier this week and it took a broad look at the state of the Arm-based mobile computing market. While processes based on the company’s designs have recently entered the personal computing market, their strength has always been smartphones and other associated gadgets. This is due to the fact that Arm’s technologies focus on low power consumption, which is a necessity for handhelds and other small form factor devices due to limitations with battery technology.
American chip giant Qualcomm Incorporated is the largest player in the global smartphone industry thanks to its lineup of Snapdragon processors. Qualcomm’s chipsets are used by most smartphones in the world, by many different companies, and given the Korean chaebol Samsung’s problems with its own smartphone processors, the company will play an even stronger role in the future.
Today’s report outlines that, as expected, Qualcomm continued to dominate the smartphone industry. Strategy Analytics states that by 2021 Qualcomm held 34% of the global smartphone market share based on revenue, with Apple in second place with a share of 31%. This is despite Qualcomm providing more processors per volume, but since Apple sells its devices at higher prices, it can generate more revenue from a smaller number of sales.
While the Cupertino-based company trailed just a handful of percentage points in the smartphone market, its dominance in the personal computing segment was absolute. Strategy Analytics reported that when we entered the market of personal computers using Arm processors, Apple had a whopping 90% revenue share, while Qualcomm captured a barely existent 3% share. The research firm also outlined that success with the M-series Arm processors has given Apple a multi-year advantage over its rivals.
As Strategy Analytics’ director of handset component technologies, Mr. Sravan Kundojjala noted:
Apple established itself as a distant market leader in ARM-based notebook PC processors with a nearly 90 percent share of sales. Apple’s M-series processor family set the benchmark, giving Apple a 2-3 year lead over the rest of the Arm-based PC processor vendors. Qualcomm achieved only a 3 percent revenue share of the Arm-based notebook PC processor market in 2021 and is lagging behind Apple in CPU performance. Despite the low share, Qualcomm continues to invest in notebook PC processors with its Nuvia CPU cores. We believe that the Arm-based notebook PC processor represents an attractive opportunity for Qualcomm, given the company’s growing pool of powerful processor assets, including CPU, GPU, AI, audio, imaging, connectivity, gaming and security.
Crucially, Mr. Kundojjala’s report also revealed that the Arm-based personal computing market for laptops was larger than the market for devices using traditional x86 processors. This growth has resulted in a renewed interest in Arm, where several major players are still eager to take over the business.