The fact that ARM Holdings is rising while Intel is stumbling as the world goes mobile isn't new. The companies' recent earnings reports were the latest reminder of that.
ARM, the Cambridge, England-based chip designer whose processors power Apple's iPhones and iPads, reported second-quarter sales that beat analyst estimates. Meanwhile, Santa Clara, California-based Intel, which relies on the PC market for most of its revenues, forecast third-quarter sales that may fall short of some estimates.
But pull the camera lens back more than a few quarters and the picture is more dramatic.
Since 2007, the year that the iPhone was first introduced, the market capitalization of Intel has fallen from $155.7 billion to $114 billion, a decline of 27 percent. Over the same period, ARM's market value has grown from $1.7 billion to $18.5 billion. That's an increase of nearly 990 percent.
Of course, Intel knows that its future growth depends on how well its new chips aimed at phones, tablets and smaller computers are received, not what's happening in PCs. And with $22.7 billion in cash, Intel has more than enough to invest deeply in mobile development.
But ARM and other mobile chipmakers already have momentum on their side. Apple reported Tuesday that it sold 31.2 million units of the iPhone in the latest quarter, ahead of analyst estimates by more than 5 million devices. And Qualcomm, the biggest seller of chips for mobile phones, forecast quarterly sales of $5.9 billion to $6.6 billion that may exceed analyst estimates, in part from higher demand from Apple.
Few would seriously count Intel, with its vast resources, out of the fight just yet. The trouble is that ARM and its ilk have been in the ring and swinging for years.