SoftBank, which owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is rumoured to be exploring options, including the sale of Arm in whole or in part, but Apple is not interested in buying the company. In a Bloomberg report about the possible interest in Arm, Bloomberg said SoftBank contacted Apple about the matter to see if Apple might want to buy Arm.
The two companies reportedly held preliminary discussions, but Apple has no plans to bid because of Arm’s licensing requirements and potential regulatory issues. This is mainly because Arm’s licensing business does not match Apple’s hardware and software business model. There may also be regulatory concerns about Apple’s ownership of a key licensor that supplies many of its competitors. Crucially, companies that currently use Arm technology will not be in favour of a deal that does not continue to make Arm’s instruction set licensed equally available to all parties.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
Apple has licensed Arm for a series of A chips in its iPhones and iPads, and plans to use Arm chips in future Macs, starting a transition later this year, so Arm is not important to Apple.
Nvidia has approached SoftBank to discuss a potential Arm deal, but other bidders are likely to emerge, Bloomberg reported.
SoftBank, on the other hand, is also considering a public listing as an alternative to a private sale. A potential sale to Nvidia or other partner companies may not have a significant impact on Apple’s or Apple’s licensing of Arm technology, as such a deal would be accompanied by regulatory oversight and requirements.