Guess who makes more chips than Intel? That’s right. It’s your favorite Cupertino, California-based technology gadget maker. Apple designs most of the chips it uses in iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV, AirPod, and some specialty chips in the MacBook Pro which still has Intel Inside.
Apple’s key to product differentiation from a slew of competitors is, 1) elegant, premium hardware that is integrated with, 2) software; from iOS to macOS, from watch OS to tvOS. Apple designs and builds a growing number of the parts inside each iDevice, including new speciality chips.
For example, not only does Apple design the CPU and GPU in the new iPhone models, but puts custom chips inside Watch, AirPods, and the Mac (Touch ID in MacBook Pro models), but has plans to develop even more of the chips in its own devices. Yeah, Apple is a chip design powerhouse and that is disrupting the tech gadget industry.
First, Apple partners with other chip makers as it did with ARM in the original iPhone. Apple bought a chip design company and the result was its own A-Series CPUs that power iPhones and iPads these days. That’s where Apple ships more chips than Intel. Apple Watch has an Apple-designed system-in-a-package with custom silicon. The company once used Imagination Technologies for graphic technology but now does that in-house, too.
What’s coming? More chips.
iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera and sensor array is packed full of chips. Some of the camera chips Apple uses come from the same manufacturers that sell such bullets to the enemy. It’s not difficult to see Apple moving into the image sensor array segment of the industry in the not-too-distant future.
Already here are companies that want to partner with Apple on medical devices for Watch. AliveCor’s Kardiaband EKG reader has been cleared by the Food and Drug administration in the U.S. Think of it as a Watch band that can detect heart rhythm and martial fibrillation (AFib). Apple’s own built-in heart rate monitor in Watch is considered almost as accurate as professional devices found in clinics and hospitals.
In essence, Apple’s future is tied up in chips– CPUs for iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV, and future devices. And complimentary Apple-designed chips that can manage device power better, or, like the chip in AirPods which help to the hassle out of syncing devices with Bluetooth.
We may not think of Apple as being in the chip business per se– the company does not manufacture chips it designs– but Apple’s chip business is huge and growing. That helps to separate Apple from the general smartphone and PC riffraff of manufacturers that build generic hardware that runs a generic operating system. You know, like Windows and Android devices.