Speculation mounts regarding Apple's intentions for ARM

Move remains rumour but share price rises

Speculation mounts regarding Apple's intentions for ARM
The seeming willingness of the press to hype the possibility of Apple buying UK based chip designer ARM would suggest some kind of deal is already on the table, but as far as anyone's aware, no official move has been made.

Indeed, ARM CEO Warren East told The Guardian, "Exciting though it is to have the share price pushed up by these rumours, common sense tells us that our standard business model is an excellent way for technology companies to gain access to our technology.

"Nobody has to buy the company".

Any proposed buyout of ARM – whose chips can already be found in iPhone handsets - would cost more than the company's current £3.4 billion ($5.2 billion) market cap.

The $41.7 billion Apple has in cash and investment reserves means such a swoop would actually make a relatively small dent in the firm's pot of gold.

Nonetheless, it would still represent the largest purchase in Apple's history. So why, exactly, are the rumours flying?

Gaining an advantage

As The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) deduces, any purchase of ARM could give Apple significant - if short term - power over some of its biggest rivals.

ARM chips currently feature in hardware running Symbian OS, the forthcoming Windows 7 Series, and Android; in fact pretty most mobile devices including the Nintendo DS. Picking up ARM would give Apple a hand into the business of its competitors.

It would also fit with Apple's stated philosophy. Apple COO Tim Cook said in January last year he believed the company should "own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make".

ARM certainly fits that bill.

Cause for concern

But it isn't all as straightforward as some might believe.

As stated by The Inquirer, Apple previously owned a stake in ARM following its formation in 1990; the company selling its stake following slow sales of Apple's Newton PDA.

To go down that path again, the site claims Apple would need to be sure it would see a genuine return on its investment.

The Inquirer also suggests any advantage Apple gained over its rivals would soon dissipate, rivals tapping other chip manufacturers and moving on to different technologies – leaving, the site concludes, Apple with a dud company on its hands.

Regardless, ARM's share price has risen by more than 3 percent since the Evening Standard mentioned the story.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.