What it is: The 64-bit processor used in the Apple iPhone 5s represents a massive leap forward in technical capabilities that caught rival mobile chip makers by complete surprise.
When Apple introduced the A7 processor as the first 64-bit ARM-based processor, Anand Chandrasekher at Qualcomm dismissed Apple’s product as a “gimmick.” Needless to say, Apple simply moved to 64-bit processors faster than its rivals, forcing its rivals to scramble and catch up.
Not surprisingly, shortly after deriding Apple’s A7 processor as a gimmick, Qualcomm later retracted his statement and had to work feverishly to develop a 64-bit processor of their own. By forcing Qualcomm and other ARM-based processor manufacturers to accelerate their 64-bit processor offerings, Apple simply made the market more difficult for its rivals.
For the longest time, rival chip makers touted various technical features to “prove” their products were superior to Apple. Yet when faced with the fact that a 64-bit processor was more powerful than a 32-bit processor, rival chip makers had no technical advantage whatsoever. They then had no choice but to release their own 64-bit processor, but first they needed Google to release a 64-bit version of Android to go along with it.
Yet no matter how fast rivals tried to keep up, the fact that Apple beat them to a 64-bit processor meant they were already falling behind. Qualcomm had previously supplied ARM processors to Samsung, but since Qualcomm’s previous processors were only 32-bit, Qualcomm had to rush their Snapdragon 64-bit processor to the market faster than they wanted to do. The end result was a Snapdragon 810 processor that technically was a 64-bit processor but lacked the speed and performance of a 64-bit processor.
That’s why Samsung dumped Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors in favor of their own Exynos processors. Even then, the Exynos processors may be 64-bit but they’re still not as efficient as Apple’s A series processors, now up to A9X in the iPad Pro.
If rivals can’t keep up with Apple, they’ll simply fall further behind. Now toss in Apple’s latest 3D Touch feature and once again Android manufacturers have to play catch up in a hurry. By rushing products to meet Apple’s latest iPhones, other companies have to rush buggy, sloppy, and unreliable products, which forces them to fall further behind as Apple marches forward with their own products.
It took almost a year for Android manufacturers to offer their own 64-bit processors that still aren’t as good as Apple’s 64-bit processors. Now with Apple introducing 3D Touch, it should be another year of waiting before Android manufacturers can offer a similar user interface feature. Since this requires both the combination of software (Android) and hardware, you can expect the end result to be rushed, sloppy, and unreliable.
Companies try to match Apple on hardware specifications and consistently fail. What they don’t realize is that Apple is both a hardware and software company, so slapping together off the shelf components to work with an off the shelf operating system is definitely not the recipe for competing against iOS and Apple’s iPhone. Yet Android manufacturers have no choice but to keep trying and losing money as a result.
Apple’s technical advantages keep moving the iPhone further and further away from its nearest competitors. If Android manufacturers can’t compete against the iPhone with technical specifications any more, what advantage can they offer?