Skip to Content

$32 Billion Buyout of ARM Is a Giant Bet on the Internet of Things

The Japanese telecom and Internet company SoftBank is taking control of technology that powers most of the world’s mobile devices (and increasingly more besides).

The Japanese telecom and Internet company SoftBank is gaining control of technology used to run most of the world’s mobile devices and has the financial wherewithal to compete more aggressively with Intel.

SoftBank is spending $32 billion to buy ARM Holdings, which licenses the chips used in not just smartphones but also an increasing number of Internet-connected domestic appliances and now even supercomputers. Its chips are best known for their energy efficiency, which is why they’ve proven so popular—extending battery life in smartphones and cutting power bills for larger devices. Among the companies that license ARM’s designs are Apple, Qualcomm, and Nvidia.

Intel should be especially worried by the purchase. The once-dominant chipmaker missed the boat on chips for mobile devices, allowing ARM to dominate the sector. The takeover by Softbank could give ARM far more resources to invest in products that further erode Intel’s market share. Chief among those could be Internet of Things hardware, which its chips are well-suited to.

SoftBank, which owns a controlling stake in Sprint in the U.S., among many other international properties, promises to maintain ARM’s brand-agnostic approach, in which it licenses technology to multiple partners. That will be worth watching. Given ARM’s dominant market position, even subtle changes to the ways in which it provides rights to processor designs could have a profound impact upon the smartphone and tablet industry.

(Read more: Bloomberg, “Moore’s Law Is Becoming Irrelevant,”Why Intel’s Job Cuts May Be Just the Beginning,” “Supercomputer Powered by Mobile Chips Suggests New Threat to Intel,” “Intel Outside as Other Companies Prosper from AI Chips”)

 

Keep Reading

Most Popular

mouse engineered to grow human hair
mouse engineered to grow human hair

Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way

These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.