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Apple Going ARM Would Be a Nightmare for Intel

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Bloomberg reported that Apple is considering a move away from Intel.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL

Over one year ago, I had this to say about Intel (NASDAQ:INTC):

Intel founder Andy Grove famously said that "only the paranoid survive."

So if I imagine myself as an Intel executive, I'm forced to ask the question, what would keep me up at night?

The answer is this: the arrival of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows PCs running on processors using ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH) designs instead of Intel chips.

Well, if a report from Bloomberg is correct, Apple is actually considering replacing the Intel processors used in the Mac line with the same kind of ARM-based chips used in the iPhone and iPad.

I'll cut right to the chase.

If -- and I'll emphasize that we're still in the "if" stage now -- this happens, consider it a nightmare scenario for Intel over the long term.

First, let's explore whether this is even possible.

My inclination is to say yes, it is. While Intel has a lot more experience than Apple in designing processors, Apple's come a long way in a very short period of time.

Look at the iPad line. It's less than three years old, but the newest fourth-generation model delivers screaming performance and extended battery life on a 9.7" 2048x1536 screen for just $500.

Think about how good these Apple processors will be in three to five years.

I bet they'll be more than fast enough to make Apple reconsider whether it makes sense to hand over 60%+ gross margins to Intel.

Furthermore, Apple would be able to run the same operating system across all devices -- PCs, tablets, smartphones, and whatever hasn't even been invented yet -- providing users with perfectly seamless transitions between different products.

Now let's talk Intel's side of the equation.

Keep in mind, I consider this to be a long-term risk for Intel -- something that could hit it three years from now at the absolute earliest, or not at all.
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