Apple On Track to Pass Intel as Top Mobile Chip Manufacturer

Apple's A5X ProcessorApple with its ARM-based chips, such as the recently introduced A5X used in the new iPad, is likely to pass Intel as the top seller of chips for mobile devices in 2012. These chips are the central processing units used in mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. While Intel chips are still dominant in the notebook market, ARM chips have over 73% market share in the total mobile processor market.

Mobile processors are found in a variety of consumer devices including e-readers, handheld game consoles, and portable media players in addition to the phones, tablets and notebooks already noted. 

According to PC Magazine, NPD In-Stat chief technology strategist, Jim McGregor, said “Apple will likely capture the top spot in 2012, driven by its success in devices, such as the iPhone and iPad. […] Just having a captive market has propelled Apple into second place for the entire mobile processor market just behind industry leader Intel.”

He added, “Although the total available market for mobile processors continues to grow, the emergence of industry leaders in the high-growth mobile device segment is becoming a key factor in the success of processor vendors.”

The firm also noted that Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and Samsung have also grown share with new product releases and/or success from their OEM partners. The full NPD In-Stat report is due out on March 27.

Intel is working on redoubling its efforts in the handheld device market with a chip codenamed Medfield. This chip is a next-generation Atom System-on-a-Chip (SoC) and can run the Android mobile operating system.

Improvements in power consumption could make this chip a competitor with the low-power requirement ARM-based chips currently used in many handheld devices. Up to now, battery consumption has been an issue with the Intel-based units. However, these Medfield chips aren’t expected until the last half of this year.