It seems that Apple's rapid and aggressive transition to a 64-bit processor with the iPhone 5s delivered a sucker punch to its competitors that left them reeling.
"The 64-bit Apple chip hit us in the gut," says a Qualcomm employee to HubSpot. "Not just us, but everyone, really. We were slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared. 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."
At the time, Qualcomm's chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher called Apple's move a "marketing gimmick" and claimed that it offered consumers "zero benefit." However, this can't have reflected Qualcomm's views since the company later issued a retraction, reassigned Chandrasekher, and then came out with its own 64-bit silicon in the form of the Snapdragon 410.
Apple's decision to shift from a 32-bit processor to a 64-bity part was an interesting one since the iPhone 5s continues to be essentially a 32-bit platform. It runs 32-bit code and doesn't need the extra bits in order to be able to access more RAM space (since the iPhone is kitted out only with 1GB of RAM).
So why did Apple make the leap? Two reasons spring to mind:
- Marketing. When everyone else was stuck in the 32-bit stone age, having a 64-bit processor made Apple seem high-tech and futuristic.
- Future-proofing. Apple is showing everyone – consumers, developers, and competition alike – where it is headed.
One thing was clear – as soon as Apple came out with a 64-bit mobile processor, everyone would suddenly want to have a 64-bit part. Once again, it shows how much Apple is innovating, leaving its competition scrabbling to follow behind.