Right or wrong, I view Apple a lot like I view Intel. They are both companies that understand branding and are interested in maximizing profits.
Apple had no problem sticking with the Moto68000 rather than moving to Intel. When Apple had to make a change, they adopted the PowerPC rather than Intel. They went to Intel because the PowerPC did not have a low power CPU in its future. They moved to Intel because of the power and pricing that Intel offered.
Apple will likely not give an indication of where the ARM (lower end tablet/phone) vs Intel (high end) product boundary will exist. It might not exist at all, because they may go one CPU or the other. Apple will make the decision based on their goals.
I would bet that even Apple does not know today, which way they will go. That decision will be delayed as long as they can and not impact their product lines. Apple will then use one group to extract better terms from the other.
IMO, anyone who says they know what the answer is, is not being candid.
You had me up until the point where people where Apple switches CPU's at the whim. Apple has made a lot of money with their in house designed SoC featuring ARM. But the problem is that they can't differentiate it enough to justify the extra expense.
I know the ARM fans may take offense to my position. I am not saying that ARM processors are so bad that they are commodities. I am saying that they are improving so quickly that you can't get a true two year sales cycle on them You can' home brew them to the point where the are still relevant two years later. I think a better model is more stock designs that come out every six months, and keep up with the pack. ARM processors are going into inexpensive price sensitive products. If they want to keep being a player in this market they have to having pricing in the ballpark of the other products.
I'm sorry, the product sales cycle works better with Intel than it does with ARM for Apple. We are starting to see that they want Intel for tablets. I don't think it has to do with the quality of ARM's processors. It more has to do with the fact that a better Intel processor won't come out in three months after introduction.
I did not use the word "whim" nor meant to imply it. I meant to say that Apple will make their decision based on what is best for them. Right now they do not know what that is. They can't. They might have a good idea.
If Intel and ARM both deliver on their promises for next year and the next, the Apple choice may be what is expected. If Intel or ARM stumble, then that stumble may push Apple the other way.
I think you and I agree (or at least just don't disagree).
If you look at Thunderbolt, Apple negotiated an exclusive from Intel. In the same way, I think Apple will play their hand out to the last card simply to maximize their benefit.
I know the ARM fans may take offense to my position. I am not saying that ARM processors are so bad that they are commodities. I am saying that they are improving so quickly that you can't get a true two year sales cycle on them You can' home brew them to the point where the are still relevant two years later ------
No offence taken to your position. However, your understanding of the SoC market is wrong and thus your conclusions.
Almost all top end SoC's use the same ARM core (the A9) the only exception is QCOM who have built their own core from scratch (to the same ARM ISA as the A9). Apples CPU cores are bog standard, unaltered, the same-as-samsung-the-same-as everyone else.
The rapid changes you are seeing is not ARM's innovation it's the SoC vendors. Better graphic cores, more integration (IP blocks), better io, higher clocks etc. Even the move to dual (and quad) cores is the SoC vendors choice (as the A9 always had this option going back years). The A5 in the iPad and the 4s is still one of the best SoC's in the market today and will be around for a few years yet.
You see new processors from ARM about every 2 years and it takes between 2 and 4 years before you see these new processors in shipping products.
Apple doesn't spend it's time on CPU design it spends it time on ***SoC design***. I can't stress this point enough.
These 'rumours' of a 1000 man team designing CPU's at Apple (if true) will be for a 64 bit ARM ISA compatible core with enough grunt to displace Intel in it's main line products.
Apple does seem to have a bit of trouble keeping up with the refresh cycles on the iPad and iPhone.
Their cycles would seem to fit the Intel upgrade cycle better. Each upgrade is a major move up but they only come once a year with the tick-tock strategy.
If you look at the next ten years, certainly it is safer and more reliable for Apple to go with Intel. They would get a consistent upgrade in fabrication every 8 quarters. There is no way that TSMC can match this. No way. In two years, ARM's power consumption advantage will disappear and Intel will then pull away. So, for the 8 years after that Apple would have a smoother, higher performance path...
There is no way Apple will give up Intel chips for their "high-end" PC offerings. MAC users will revolt if they dont get the highest performance user experience. Some of the "1st generation" ultrabooks must be scaring Cook, as they are very close to the Mac Air in terms of performance/experience.