Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip found inside the iPhone 5s, but also the 2013 family of iPads, is the feature that surprised the competition, setting off “panic in the industry,” according to an unnamed Qualcomm employee interviewed by Dan Lyons. “The 64-bit Apple chip hit us in the gut. Not just us but everyone, really,” the employee said. “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.”
Publicly, a Qualcomm exec has initially deemed the A7 processor as a “marketing gimmick,” downplaying its importance at the time. But Anand Chandrasekher, who was the company’s CMO at the time he made the remark, was reassigned, and the company backtracked on the comment.
Qualcomm has actually announced its first 64-bit processor a few days ago, the Snapdragon 410 that will be used in affordable handsets in the second half of next year. Samsung has also committed to making its own 64-bit processor, which will probably equip some of the company’s future flagship devices. The company is also manufacturing the A7 for Apple. But apparently everyone except for Apple did not see 64-bit processors coming, or at least not for the time being.
“The roadmap for 64-bit was nowhere close to Apple’s since no one thought it was essential. The evolution was going to be steady. Sure it’s neat, it’s the future, but it’s not really essential for conditions now,” the same Qualcomm insider said. “Apple kicked everybody in the balls with this. It’s being downplayed, but it set off panic in the industry.”
Even though the benefits may not be immediate for already using a 64-bit inside new iPhones and iPads – although some apps already perform faster thanks to it – with the new A7 processor, Apple is simply future-proofing its devices for the upcoming iOS versions and app that will better take advantage of it.