LONDON The arrival of ARM (Cambridge, England) as a force to be reckoned with can, arguably, be traced back to the beginning of 1999.
The company was already eight years old when on Jan. 6 1999 EE Times reported ARM's own prediction that the company would have 70 percent of the market for processors in the mobile phone handset business. This was a statistic that came to define ARM's early success.
At the beginning of 1999 it was clear that the mobile phone handset business was on a very steep growth curve, but until the prediction given by Pete Magowan, then a vice president with ARM responsible for Europe, observers tended to measure design wins by semiconductor companies. ARM had been thought of as an interesting company pursuing an unusual business model, the licensing of processor IP, and with links to a number of semiconductor makers.
Magowan pointed out that his market share prediction was based on existing design-wins across multiple technologies and multiple handset vendors. At that point it became clear that regardless of who was making DSPs and processors for the phone vendors, they were choosing ARM. This was particularly true of Nokia and Ericsson opening up the possibility that ARM would dominate the mobile phone handset processor market almost as much as Intel had dominated the market for personal computer processors.
Ten years on and Magowan has left ARM, as has his boss at the time Sir Robin Saxby, but the battle lines are still drawn between ARM and Intel.
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