Apple takes the high-end with their 64-bit A7; leaves rivals to scrap for survival in low-end

“The most significant part of Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C were not the phones themselves, rather it is the 64 bit A7 processor, which will be the platform that moves the company safely to higher ground while the rest of mobiles commoditizes,” Ed McKernan writes for Seeking Alpha. “While analysts preened for a mass market $300 phone to ‘save’ the ecosystem, Apple headed in a completely different direction that offers revenue growth and increased margins. Contrary to belief, $300 phones are a dead end.”

“Tim Cook has not mentioned it publicly but his number one goal is to take over the corporate Wintel business that has driven profits for Microsoft and Intel over these past 30 years,” McKernan writes. “In front of Tim Cook is a corporate market dying to have a supplier that has a cohesive product line of interoperability. In one year’s time, all of Apple’s products focused at corporate will be 64 bit, and in the history of computing, this is the fastest transition that has ever taken place.”

MacDailyNews Note: Ed McKernan is a semiconductor Veteran with 20+ years of experience at Intel and several prominent startups including Cyrix and Transmeta.

“Apple’s decision to launch the 64 bit A7 in the iPhone 5S and expected soon in the iPad 5 will set the stage for software app developers to focus most of their attention on not just porting apps but creating interoperability with OS X at the expense of Android,” McKernan writes. “In many ways what Cook has already put in place with the yearly product introductions is a treadmill that freezes the competitors during the high consumer holiday selling season that lasts through Chinese New Year. Layered on top of this, he seeks to build in a corporate selling treadmill that favors Apple’s mobile and iOS introduction schedules, thus building a wide moat around the top half of the market that drives profits.”

Apple A7

McKernan writes, “If as expected, Apple launches the A8 next year as the latest 64 bit processor with features that excel against all, even Intel, in performance and power, then it will have completely taken Intel’s game away while the latter is demoted to selling in the $300 mass market that continues to commoditize. And that is the end game that no analyst has put a pencil to.”

Read more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote to Android peddler Samsung last month:

Have fun trying to fake Touch ID and a 64-bit operating system. Maybe you can make a phone with an 18-inch display instead to try to hide how much you suck.

Related articles:
Apple’s 64-bit A7 is no gimmick: New iPhone 5s offers major performance leap – September 25, 2013
Ars Technica: Apple’s Touch ID and 64-bit A7 are deceptively large advances in the iPhone’s evolution – September 24, 2013
Apple iPhone 5s reviews are universally positive, many crown iPhone 5s the best smartphone – September 19, 2013
Apple’s new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c arrive in stores on Friday, September 20th – September 17, 2013
Engadget reviews Apple iPhone 5c: A breath of fresh air that will be wildly popular this holiday season – September 18, 2013
Apple’s 64-bit iPhone 5s is by far the fastest smartphone in the world – September 18, 2013
Ben Bajarin: Apple’s new iOS 7 will cause consumers to discover their iPhones all over again – September 18, 2013
John Gruber reviews Apple iPhone 5s: ‘This is what innovation, real innovation, looks like’ – September 18, 2013
AnandTech reviews iPhone 5s: Apple’s 64-bit A7 is seriously impressive – September 18, 2013
TechCrunch reviews Apple iPhone 5s: The best smartphone available – September 18, 2013
Apple’s new iPhone 5S likely to be in exceptionally short supply – September 18, 2013
USA Today’s Baig reviews Apple iPhone 5s: ‘Makes the best smartphone even better’ – September 18, 2013
Mossberg reviews Apple iPhone 5s: ‘The best smartphone on the market’ – September 18, 2013
iPhone 5s pre-orders quickly sell out in China; gold iPhone 5s sells out quickest of all – September 17, 2013
Apple’s new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c arrive in stores on Friday, September 20th – September 17, 2013


  1. The 64-bit A7 (along with iOS 7 to fully utilize it) is an amazing achievement. And in these times of “leaks,” Apples seems to have startled the competition, who are powerless to react (“copy”) in the near term.

    Intel’s approach is to scale down toward mobile devices, which has the disadvantage of its most advanced CPUs still being too large and power-hungry compared to Apple’s CPUs that are designed specifically for the limitations of mobile devices. And now that Apple has gone “64-bit” on the A-7, it will be much easier for Apple to scale UP the processing power to move future versions of “A-chips” into the realm of Mac laptops, and then desktops.

    1. Whilst I concede to your thinking on several points ken1w, I tentatively point out that the case for upscaling processing power does not correlate to greater power consumption, (if you are comparing power hungry Intel CPU’s to compared to Apple’s A series processors).
      A clear cut illustration of this concept is that of the iPhone5s’ M7 chip that offloads motion processing from the A7 chip, thus mitigating the need for a power hungry CPU.
      What Apple inc could do is come up with a series of M type chips dedicated to offloading designated tasks off the A7 or such like chip be it duo or quad chore in order to minimize the power consumption of whatever the devise maybe but still upscaling the processing exponentially.

      1. I didn’t say anything about “power consumption” of the Apple chips. However, if the “upscaling” is done through additional cores for a given iteration of CPU, they (the versions intended for use where power availability is not or is less constrained) will consume more power than the versions intended for iPhone and iPad.

  2. The key to the enterprise segment will be ensuring that whatever Apple grows into for their enterprise system, the ability to run Windows in the corporate environment on desktops and laptops will remain a must, whether we like it or not. Businesses cannot transform quickly to another system. There is a ton of Windows-only applications out there, which while frustrating, is still reality. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple grows this processor and what products it will end up in. But if Apple ever gets serious about enterprise, they have the resources to pull off just about whatever they can dream up. A sizable enterprise support team at Apple would be a must.

    1. With virtualization, your point is moot. We are running Parallels in all our Macs at work with great success. We are running RIP software, color calibration software that needs a USB dongle to work. Everything we have attempted to run for work has been successfully ran in native Windows using Parallels and we are not even using the latest better optimized version.

      1. criseod63. Yes. All true. The article was talking about growing the A7 into something bigger, my only point was that if that processor grows into the laptop and desktop lines, the ability to run Windows needs to be maintained. Without an Intel processor on that becomes a bigger challenge.

    2. A person often backs himself/herself into a precarious position with the word “must.” Apple is putting tens of millions of iOS devices into the enterprise already without a single one of them running Windows. Many more are making their way into the corporate environments via BYOD (officially or unofficially). They can sync with email via Exchange and access a wide range of web-based content. Meanwhile, the enterprise environments will (slowly) evolve away from the Windows lockdown.

      Apple Macs can already natively run Windows and Linux. Ironically, MacBook Pro laptops are often touted as the fastest Windows laptops.

      1. Not even ironically, any more. Apple’s build quality exceeds that of PC manufacturers who are all forced to compete on price. The ability of Macs to run Windows natively through Boot Camp or emulation was the ultimate Trojan horse, and is slowly but surely demolishing Troy.

        The BYOD phenomenon was a “happening” at the atmospheric level of the Arab Spring, taking on a life of its own and buckling the knees of IT gatekeepers. At a notable number of corporate sites. Apple mobile devices have been allowed past the iron curtain of procurement policies ghost-written by Microsoft.

      2. Yes. Apple has shown that a great product will make it into the corporate world. My point on Windows was only about the desktops and laptops. If they grow the Ax line into the laptops and desktop machines, the ability to run Windows needs to go along with it. That world may grow out of the Windows environment, but it’ll be a very long time. It would take a huge advantage somehow to get businesses to replace all their cheap employee model PCs with Macs. If Apple could show an advantage in the cost of a service contract over what companies like Dell offer for their IT expertise, some companies might sign up for a major overhaul with the risks involved. It would take a significant carrot.

  3. Ahh, intelligent vertical integration. Building that infrastructure took a ton of time and money. Only really smart people can pull it off. Well done, Apple.

    How the rats do scurry.

  4. September WWDC 2016. Phil on stage: ” I’ve something for you tonight. Its new and the last step of Apple journey. Now instead of making steps we start to run. Run very fast”

    Small black box with one blinking white light is unveiled in the center of the stage.

    Phil continues: “Its our new Mac. We call it SuperMac, because its 5x faster than the fastest Intel CPU. This little guy opens a new era of Apple devices powered by easily upgradeable A10 ChipMatrixes
    16, 32, 64 or even 128 Chips on demand. Starting from 99 USD per month.

    Standing ovations.

    Thats how 4th and final Apple transition should have started.

    1. 1. As long Android rests a 32bit OS, copying the A7 is completely useless!
      2. Apple is the only brand, who is able to make an 64bit OS (OS X and iOS), that is able to run 64bit Apps and 32bit Apps IN THE SAME TIME! This is very important till all Apps are updated to 64 Bit.
      3. To create such an OS is work for years and costs a lot. Google has no interest, to do such a work, without having at least some hope of getting money out of it. Their business is advertising, which does not require a 64bit-OS at all…

  5. Many if the comments on Seeking Alpha for this article are elucidating. My favorite is from ziperro:

    64-bit is important because it miniaturizes and puts desktop-level computing in the palm of everyone’s hand. As computing power increases, computer size decreases from mainframes to desktop PCs and now the 64-bit iPhone 5S smartphone. Desktop PCs are no longer needed and if you need a bigger screen, corporate IT will get you some dummy monitors and keyboards you attach to your iPhone 5S, for which many business-class apps are being developed as we speak. This is the “post-PC” age Steve Jobs spoke of. PC sales and usage were declining already due to increased smartphones and tablet usage, and this accelerates that massively further and opens up the next, miniaturized chapter of the decades-long computer revolution.
    Microsoft is in serious trouble for obvious reasons, but Google is as well because it still gets over 90% of its revenues from searchword advertising on desktop PCs. In addition, Android can’t be upgraded to 64-bit. Android has no answer to the 64-bit “pocket Mac” just released by Apple in the form of the iPhone 5s. Android has no capacity to run business-class apps and never will. Its fragmentation and security holes were already hated by corporate IT departments which prefer the uniformity and security of iOS. But Android’s lack of 64-bit just puts another nail in its coffin.

    With so much fragmentation, so little security, and no 64-bit, Android can never enjoy Windows-like network effects among Fortune 500 corporations. It will always be relegated as “feature phones with touchscreens” for the poor masses around the world who can’t even afford data plans or apps for their so-called “smartphones.” It certainly doesn’t make sense to put expensive 64-bit technology into these feature phones disguised as smartphones. 32-bit Android 4.2 is still only on 8% of Android phones, even though it came out almost a year ago. Most Android users are content with their even older 32-bit versions of Android.

  6. I remember Transmeta. Are they still around?
    Torvalds work or worked there.
    The launched a CPU many years ago trying to compete with Intel. Not on performance but on power. So did VIA, the chip set maker if you remember. Both this endeavours failed however.

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