SoftBank May Be Selling Arm, But Apple Isn't Interested

SoftBank, the company that owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is exploring options that could include a full or partial sale of Arm, according to rumors, but Apple isn't interested in purchasing the company.

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In a report on Nvidia's possible interest in Arm, Bloomberg says that SoftBank approached Apple to see if Apple might want to buy Arm. The two companies reportedly had preliminary discussions, but Apple does not plan to pursue a bid because of Arm's licensing requirements and possible regulatory concerns.

The two firms had preliminary discussions, but Apple isn't planning to pursue a bid. That's because Arm's licensing operation would fit poorly with Apple's hardware and software business model. There may also be regulatory concerns about Apple owning a key licensee that supplies so many rivals. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple licenses Arm technology for the A-series chips in its iPhones and iPads, and is also planning to use Arm chips in future Macs, with a transition starting later this year.

According to Bloomberg, Nvidia has approached SoftBank to discuss a potential deal for Arm, but other bidders could potentially emerge. SoftBank is also considering a public stock listing as an alternative to a private sale.

A potential sale to Nvidia or another company would not likely have a major impact on Apple or Apple's licensing of Arm technology because of the regulatory oversight and requirements that would accompany such a deal.

Companies that use Arm technology at the current time also would not be in favor of a deal that does not include assurances that Arm's instruction set will continue to be available for equal licensing opportunities.

Top Rated Comments

JulienBerthelot Avatar
16 months ago
If I were Intel, man would I buy that company... Saves them from becoming (maybe, who knows) irrelevant.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
16 months ago

What stops another company from buying ARM and then quadrupling (or more) the licensing fees? What alternatives would Apple have at that point?
1. ARM offers perpetual licensing for their ISA.

2. Apple uses ARMv8-A ISA (see #1). But they do not license processor core designs. Apple designs their implementation in-house.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Seoras Avatar
16 months ago
I wonder if SoftBank timed this "for sale" talk to coincide with Apple's moving MacOS to ARM announcement in the hope of getting them to seriously consider buying them out?
I can think of several companies I'd rather not see taking control of ARM who'd love to use ownership to make life difficult for Apple. Yes, yes, "regulatory oversight and requirements that would accompany such a deal" should make it safe but then again...
Imagine Qualcomm owning ARM? That couldn't be good for anyone.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Cappy Avatar
16 months ago

If Apple bought ARM, they would just find a way of making their products even more locked down.
How profoundly you misunderstand things. Apple doesn't want to buy ARM because they'd likely then be forced to license their own innovations. Every innovation they made to an ARM chip would result in a lawsuit because, as owners... well the rest should be obvious.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Spock Avatar
16 months ago

What stops another company from buying ARM and then quadrupling (or more) the licensing fees? What alternatives would Apple have at that point?
Maybe they could go back to PowerPC and we could finally get that PowerBook G5 ?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4jasontv Avatar
16 months ago

What stops another company from buying ARM and then quadrupling (or more) the licensing fees? What alternatives would Apple have at that point?
It's not medicine, so I don't think you can do that in the US.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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