Would-be dance star Wozniak tangos with Apple chip strategy
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, perhaps best-known to today’s generation for doing the Argentine Tango with world champion Karina Smirnoff on “Dancing with the Stars,” weighed in this weekend on Apple’s apparent foray into chip design.
Wozniak was a calculator chip designer at Hewlett-Packard before he and Steve Jobs founded Apple. He said that designing a chip should only cost a few million dollars. If Apple, like all PC makers, continues to contract the manufacturing, the endeavor shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive.
“I have been pushing for it since we started the company,” Wozniak said in an interview on the sidelines of the National Inventors Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Silicon Valley last Saturday. “It’s a competitive advantage.”
“High-performance, low-power chips are the name of the game now,” he said, adding that Apple might want to create different layouts that would make chips faster or more energy efficient.
“Cell phone chips are sold in high volume,” he said, adding that because Apple is a small customer, it can’t get custom chips from its suppliers.
Although Apple has never said who its iPhone suppliers are, analysts say the company uses chips from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Broadcom Corp, Marvell Technology Inc, CSR Plc, and Infineon Technologies AG.
Apple’s chip plan has reportedly been in the works for at least a year as it acquired PA Semi and hired chip experts from Advanced Micro Devices. Pundits say Apple’s first competitive target is likely the application processor chip supplied by Samsung, which controls advanced features such as multimedia capabilities.
But while such a chip may push the likes of Samsung out of the growing iPhone business, it is unlikely that Apple would venture to compete with Samsung for other manufacturer’s business.
“I think the proprietary reputation will hold,” Wozniak said, adding that the chance Apple would sell its chips outside the company is near zilch.
And what about dancing?
Yes, he says, he and partner Janet are taking dance lessons “so we can move whenever we feel the music.”
(Reporting by Clare Baldwin)
Photo Credit: ABC Inc/Kelsey McNeal