The back of the Apple iPhone XS Max.

Apple’s iOS devices are among the world’s most powerful mobile gadgets, in large part due to the company’s chip design capabilities. But it looks like the firm may have lost one of the key people behind its silicon success.

Gerard Williams III, Apple’s senior director of platform architecture, has left the company after nine years at the Cupertino colossus, a source told CNET. Williams was reportedly in charge of every processor from the A7 in the iPhone 5s to the A12X seen in the latest iPad Pro line.

The A7 was the first 64-bit smartphone chip to feature in a commercial product and its arrival caught the Android world by surprise. Following its launch, there were suggestions that Qualcomm’s first 64-bit flagship chipset (the Snapdragon 810) had been stop-gap release in a rushed attempt to compete.

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Apple has enjoyed a lengthy period of silicon supremacy since then, as it consistently out-performed chips by Android OEMs and chip makers in most benchmark tests. But it certainly looks like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor has narrowed the gap to the current-gen, A12 chip.

Making mobile chipsets is a team effort, but it’s clear Williams’ direction had a major impact on Apple’s mobile hardware; whoever nabs him stands to make some big gains. Whether that’s Google, Huawei, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung or someone else, we don’t know. Either way, here’s hoping that Apple’s loss is Android’s gain.

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