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For the entire mobile and consumer device industry, an Apple purchase of ARM Holdings (ARMH) would be an absolute nightmare. For Apple, it would allow them to have exclusive rights to the company’s technology roadmap and control the licensing of a key embedded systems technology that sits at the core of many consumer electronics products.
Once the licensee terms ran out, Apple could easily terminate the architectual licenses of companies it views as its competitive enemies, and then the major mobile players like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, LG, RIM, Texas Instruments, Freescale, Marvell, nVidia, Qualcomm and dozens of others would be out in the cold if Tim Cook decided he wanted any of them to go away.
And we all know that his predecessor, Steve Jobs, made no bones about wanting to "Go Thermonuclear" on anyone who made Android handsets and tablets.
This is all assuming, of course, if any of these players didn’t have perpetual license agreements in play, in which case Apple would be obligated to permit those players to continue to manufacture ARM-based chips, depending on the IP of which chip architectures they had access to.
Still, the architectural platform which powers the core of just about every smartphone device and SOHO routers and numerous other consumer electronics products would be under Apple’s total control.
This could cause any number of players using the ARM platform to go scrambling for alternative embedded technologies, such as low-power x86, MIPS, or even the PowerPC architecture which powers the Sony Playstation, the XBOX 360 and the Nintendo Wii.
Of course, with any large purchase of this type — and the British company is capitalized at about $12.54B at the moment and would likely sell for no less than 15 to 20 billion dollars — it would be subject to serious government scrutiny in the US, the EU and Asia and Apple would very likely find itself hard pressed to “go medieval” on ARM licensees like a flock of Angry Birds.
But it could definitely make life difficult for Apple's competitors if the sale went through.