Qualcomm insider: Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip set off a panic, it ‘hit us in the gut’

“In public, Apple’s rivals in the smartphone market have tried to downplay the technological advances Apple introduced in the iPhone 5s. But it turns out that one breakthrough — Apple’s speedy, 64-bit A7 microprocessor — has set off a panic inside its competitors,” Dan Lyons reports for HubSpot. “At chipmaker Qualcomm, which provides microprocessors for many of the Android phones that compete against the iPhone, executives have been trying to put on a brave face to the world, but internally people are freaking out, according to an insider at the company.”

“‘The 64-bit Apple chip hit us in the gut,’ says the Qualcomm employee. ‘Not just us, but everyone, really. We were slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared,'” Lyons reports. “PCs have had 64-bit chips for a while, but until Apple introduced the iPhone 5s in September, nobody had put one in a smartphone.”

“At the time Qualcomm CMO Anand Chandrasekher called the chip ‘a marketing gimmick,’ though Qualcomm quickly put out a statement in which it walked back Chandrasekher’s comment and called it “inaccurate.” Soon after that, Chandrasekher was reassigned. Whoops,” Lyons reports. “In fact, Qualcomm and others now are racing to finish their own 64-bit chips. But Apple has gained a substantial jump on them.”

Lyons asks, “How did Apple catch its competitors so flat-footed?”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Dan K.,” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

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45 Comments

    1. Don’t you realize that the smartphone industry would much rather have an iPhone with a bigger display than they would a 64-bit processor. A 64-bit chip is something they can’t quantify as being useful as a larger display would. The smartphone industry would definitely consider an iPhone with a larger display more innovative than a 64-bit chip because these are the terms they think in.

      If Android has something and Apple doesn’t then Apple has fallen behind. But if Apple has something that Android doesn’t have then that thing simply doesn’t matter. Almost no one will ever admit that Apple has an advantage over the rest of the smartphone industry. It’s just unthinkable. The smartphone industry simply wants Android to be the leading mobile OS because they don’t like the way Apple is making all the money from iOS.

      1. Me, I’d rather have a faster, more functional phone than a bigger screen. Time is money, and a lot of time is wasted waiting for an Android device to do something. Believe me, I know. I went from using a Kindle Fire to an iPad Air. The performance of the Kindle in comparison is so bad, I couldn’t ever see myself recommending it. Besides, I expect Apple will most likely be coming out with something larger next year. And when Apple does it, it’ll be lighter, thinner, and better design.

        1. ^This^

          While Boy is right that most would (ignorantly) prefer a bigger screen, I refused to let my wife consider anything other than the 64 bit processor in her recent purchase.

          I’m sure that 64 bit performance will rock on the 13″ maxiPad I’m hoping to be able to buy this time next year, too.

          1. Boy isn’t right.
            He says the industry would see as larger screen as more innovative.
            The industry most certainly do not. The end customer might but they are not the industry.

      2. We already have a bigger screen, it’s called iPad Mimi. Not enough, what about iPad air? And both of them with out sacrificing battery or speed.
        A bigger screen is not always require. Having you device with enough battery to be use when you most need it is ALWAY REQUIRE!!!

  1. “How did Apple catch its competitors so flat-footed?”

    Because none of them had a 64 bit OS to work with, and none of them had control of the OS code, so why work on a 64 bit chip for which there was not soon likely to be a 64 bit OS?

  2. It isn’t often, lately, that Apple has sneaked in a sucker punch, but this was one of those times. When I was channeling the Delphic Oracle, I called it. You know something is true when multiple people straggle out of a smoking crater and admit they didn’t know what hit them.

    1. I think Wall Street should downgrade Apple for coming out with some totally useless 64-bit technology that no one asked for. That’s like giving refrigerators to Eskimos who live at the North Pole. In fact, it would only be a burden to them to carry around.

      /s

      1. Sneaked is the proper form. It is sneak, sneaked, and has sneaked.

        If you want to go with “snuck” as the past tense, what is the past participle form? “Has snuckered”????

        Just because way too many people use a word that really does not exist, i.e., “snuck”, does not make it correct.

    2. Hannah, you continuously amaze me: “has sneaked” instead of “snuck”! Simply amazing.

      And, yes, it is an undeniable truth when even the naysayers step forth (even anonymously) and say, “What is that, and from where did it come?!?!”

    1. I suppose your point is rhetorical. Still…

      If you’ll pardon my French, Electro, Apple has been kicking ass and taking names for years now. Everyone knows it, especially the ones whose job it is to deny it and discredit Apple through a panoply of methods including shameless imitations of political PACs with their talking points, payola, subversion of journalism, hijacking of free expression on the Internet, industrial espionage, and post-Nixonian treachery that we can only guess at.

      If the pundits’ claims were true, that Apple was finished, why would so many assassins be after them? Heck, I think I could write this up as a mathematical proof. Michael Shermer might publish it.

  3. I was impressed that Apple kept such a big advance totally secret. Prior to the launch, we were bombarded with predictions about what to expect, but 64 bit was never mentioned, other than as a possibility for 2014 or beyond.

    Tim Cook vowed to double up on secrecy and he certainly delivered on that promise.

    1. I thought the same thing. We all pretty much new about the fingerprint scanner, but I don’t recall one rumor in regards to a 64 bit chip.I suffered with a Kindle HD prior to getting my iPad Air. Working in the Kindle was like working in slow motion. The iPad Air is incredibly fast, and is twice as fast as anything else out there.

      Should be interesting to watch the competition scramble to bring out a me too product. Until they do, they can add every feature under the sun to their devices, and it still won’t make a difference. With so much fragmentation with Android, with no clear path to collaborate to get 64 bit off the ground for Android, I think it’s probably going to take a long while for Samsung or whomever to get something that’ll match the A7’s power. My guess, it’s going to be a year or more before we can expect to see 64 bit outside of Apple on tablets and smart phones.

      Besides, 64 bit is way overkill for the majority of Android users who really just use their devices as a phone and not much else. Those BOGO deals have put many smart phones into the hands of people who don’t have a clue.

      Last, let’s not forget, Apple isn’t resting on its laurels. I’m sure Apple is working on the next great chip, A8 if I had to guess, plus getting iOS 100% 64 bit, and a majority of the Apps upgraded to take advantage of the new architecture.

      Can’t innovate my ass.

    1. Is it in Google’s interest to spend the amount of money it would take to create a 64 bit architecture for Android? Because Apple makes the OS and the hardware, they had a very clear path to make it happen. Will Google have to start charging money for the right to use Android? I haven’t seen one article in regards to Google developing their OS for 64 bit support.

      1. Google absolutely has to re-write Android in 64-bit to copy Apple or they’d never live it down. The Droidboyz will be in an outrage if Android OS isn’t 64-bit by next year. That would give Apple such a huge psychological advantage that Droid lovers might want to commit suicide having to suck Apple’s hind-tit. I’m sure right at this moment Google has about 1000 programmers re-doing Android 32-bit code to bring it up to 64-bit iOS specs and beyond. For all we know, Google may be preparing a 128-bit Android OS just to make Apple look incompetent.

        Google must prove it is better than Apple or Wall Street might decide to downgrade the company on GP. I can assure you Google will most certainly pull a 64-bit Android out of it’s pocket even if it is riddled with bugs and security holes. Google is not going to let Apple get a leg up on them.

        1. Ok, but who is going to make the chips a 64 bit Android will run on? And how do they address all those forked variants of Android? To me, it looks like one hell of a Herculean task to get Android to 64, 128 bit or whatever. Add to that the foot dragging that will come from developers who prefer to spend their time developing apps for the iPhone and won’t be in any big hurry to rewrite their apps for Android. I’m not sure how much more money is made on iOS apps than Android, but I do know it’s a lot. And while all that is happening, Apple just keeps moving along innovating and improving their already way ahead product.

        2. Google will definitely have a version of Android that they will be calling 64-bit by this time next year, if not sooner. It will be the 32-bit version that will have 64-bit aspects and functions bolted on top of it.

          It won’t be as elegant as the iOS version that fairly seamlessly does both 32-bit and 64-bit apps, but it will be something that they can call 64-bit.

          Remember Windows moving to 64-bit? You had versions of Windows that would not run anything but 64-bit properly. You had versions of Windows that ran 32-bit well but choked on 64-bit apps that claimed to be 64-bit. It was a real mess. Even as recently as Windows 7, the 32-bit/64-bit interplay has not been really smooth in Windows.

          Compare that with OS X, which, for the most part, had a very smooth transition from 32-bit to 64-bit with OS X running both quite smoothly at the same time. Remember the keynote by Jobs where he showed Apple’s 32-bit and 64-bit and home and enterprise versions of OS X and then very pointedly stating that they are ALL THE SAME OS — clearly jabbing directly at Microsoft’s many different versions of Windows.

          Android will be the same as Windows. There will be a version of Android that Google will claim is 64-bit which will have significant issues concurrently running both 32-bit and 64-bit apps smoothly. Then in two to three (or maybe even more) years, Google will finally be shipping a 64-bit OS built from the ground up as 64-bit that *might* handle legacy 32-bit apps well.

  4. When I saw Dan Lyons wrote this – I think he was actually happy when the Real Steve Jobs died – I wondered how much it hurt him to write anything even vaguely praiseworthy about Apple. He is still going to hell.

    Best quote from article – “Apple kicked everybody in the balls with this. It’s being downplayed, but it set off panic in the industry.”

  5. 64 bit for 64 bit is good for causing fits to manufacturers, but so far we haven’t seen from apple what would really matter—an application or applications using 64 bit that offer a compelling degree of functionality, or new type of functionality, that other phones/tablets can’t offer because they are stuck at 32 bit.

    1. I will offer anecdotal evidence about what a 64 bit iPhone 5S can do.

      Crank up a few of your apps with iHeart radio streaming sound & then to a Tethering to your laptop to download a big file and check the data rate.

  6. Oh the great question of “How did Apple catch its competitors so flat-footed?” I guess the competition must have been following the jouranalysts’ and analysts’ conjectures and projections instead of looking for the facts.

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