Now that HP is buying Autonomy, a UK company, rumors also abound with ARM being acquired as well. ARM selling out would be a catastrophic decision not only for Android, but also in general for everyone else, especially when it comes to selling out to these 3 companies: Intel, Oracle, or Apple.
They would end up jacking up the prices in the short term, and killing ARM slowly in the long term to maintain the much higher margins of the x86 chips. It would be a huge conflict of interest internally between the x86 division and the ARM division, and the x86 side would win – just like it did last time when Intel owned an ARM company (Xscale).
The reason Intel still doesn’t want to make ARM chips, even as it becomes more and more obvious that ARM chips are the future, and they’d rather fail again and again to catch up with Atom on energy efficiency, is because they want the x86 architecture to win. Why would they want to sell $20 ARM chips to manufacturers, when they could sell $95 Atom ones? Fortunately for us, Intel doesn’t get much of a say in the mobile market because their chips are not competitive enough in both energy efficiency and price, and lately they are starting to lose ground in the performance race, too, with Atom. So manufacturers don’t have very good reasons for using Atom chips instead.
Not only are they not compatible at all with ARM as a company DNA and culture, but their greedy mentality will end up destroying ARM, too. Oracle bought Sun so they could squeeze out the most money they can from them and their IP rights. Their attitude has already led to open source developers quitting developing OpenOffice, and other open source tools that Oracle got with the Sun acquisition. Out of all, Oracle is probably the worst company that could buy ARM.
Well, do I really need to spell it out why it would be “insanely bad” for the rest of the industry, and ARM competition in general? If left alone, ARM will go on on to become the most popular chip architecture of the next decade. Who knows what will happen after Apple acquires it? Would they still be fair to Samsung, Qualcomm and other ARM chip manufacturers, or would they try to make ARM as proprietary as possible?
Either way, I don’t think there will be an ARM acquisition, and there shouldn’t be one. ARM just needs to continue being great at what they do, and they have nothing to fear in the next few or more years.