When Apple introduced its 64-bit A7 chip in September, competitors responded with contempt; one high-ranking Qualcomm executive even called the iPhone 5s’s chip a “marketing gimmick” with “zero benefit to the consumer.” Less than a week later, Qualcomm distanced itself from those remarks, calling them “inaccurate” and thinly veiling an apology in the process. The truth, according to an anonymous Qualcomm employee, is that the chip-maker was “slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared,” for what Apple had wrought.
Via Dan Lyons, who allegedly spoke with a Qualcomm employee about Apple’s chip, the Cupertino company’s 64-bit A7 chip hit Qualcomm “in the gut.” The employee said, “Not just us, but everyone, really… It’s not that big a performance difference right now, since most current software won’t benefit. But in Spinal Tap terms it’s like, 32 more, and now everyone wants it.”
The anonymous employee went on to say competing companies were upset Apple was first to market with 64-bit, even though the technology currently isn’t essential. “Sure, it’s neat, it’s the future, but it’s not really essential for conditions now,” the employee said. However, there was a palpable envy among tech’s elite, which meant others needed to keep up.
“Apple kicked everybody in the balls with this,” the employee explained. “It’s being downplayed, but it set off panic in the industry.”
Not long after the iPhone 5s was released, Apple included its new A7 chip in both its iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, rounding out an excellent family of mobile devices. In response, both Samsung and Qualcomm said to expect 64-bit processors down the road, though it’s not entirely clear which device will be first to feature the “marketing gimmick.” Either way, companies are frantically working to catch up as the mobile arms race continues.