The Parable of the Frog and the Scorpion in Silicon

It appears that Qualcomm has plans to design a competitor to Apple’s M1 chip.

I don’t know if they actually have the technical ability to do this, they dominate the cell phone modem and SoC chip markets, but given their record of monopolistic and abusive business practices, what person in their right mind would rely on them for the technical core of their product?

Qualcomm’s new CEO, Cristiano Amon, says the company will have no problem producing laptop chips to compete directly with Apple’s M1—mainly because Qualcomm now employs some of the key minds behind Apple’s highly publicized breakthrough. Amon told Reuters in a recent interview that Qualcomm will attempt to design its own system-on-a-chip (SoC) for laptops without working with ARM, its partner in smartphone chips.

This SoC would include a 5G modem as well as a CPU. Explaining this strategy, Amon said:

We needed to have the leading performance for a battery-powered device. If Arm, which we’ve had a relationship with for years, eventually develops a CPU that’s better than what we can build ourselves, then we always have the option to license from Arm.

This year, Qualcomm purchased startup Nuvia for $1.4 billion. Nuvia was founded by former Apple employees who had worked on the Apple Silicon transition in the lead up to the launch of the M1.

Amon said that Qualcomm intends to use that Nuvia acquisition to drive the development of new chips for consumer devices, including laptops, to offer computer-makers a counterpoint to Apple’s highly efficient silicon.

Seriously, given their behavior in the past, how could ANYONE trust them not to institute onerous licensing requirements as soon as they have achieved a modicum of commercial success?

You know the senario, “Sorry, but we’ve changed our licensing terms.  Instead of the chip manufacturer paying a 30% royalty, the system manufacturer will have to pay a 20% royalty.  Have a nice day.”

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