Earlier this year Apple announced Project Kalamata. The endgame appears to be to replace Intel x86 CPUs in Macs with custom-designed, ARM-based silicon. Just like it has with its A-series processors in the iPhone, iPad etc.
For some time, Apple has included a ‘Power Nap’ ARM co-processor in its Macs that continues to function when the Intel CPU is asleep.
Why Project Kalamata?
First, Kalamata is a city in Greece. It lends its name to the black olives natively grown there. And for the life of me, I can’t see what relation to an Intel or ARM CPU it has!
Second Apple and Intel have had a long relationship since 2006. Apple sells about US$25 billion Intel-based Mac and MacBook annually.
But there are other projects that portend Apple’s future directions. Apple is reportedly developing its own replacement products:
- GPU (graphics processing unit – NVIDIA is currently its major supplier)
- LTE modems (to replace Qualcomm that it is fighting with).
- Apple has a slice of Toshiba Memory (Samsung et al. are suppliers)
- It dabbled, so far unsuccessfully, with Sapphire Glass
- It invested in Corning for its own version of Gorilla Glass
- A $2.7 billion investment with LG for POLED (plastic OLED)
- Project T159 – MicroLED screens to replace IPS/LCD and OLED screens
- Custom ASICs like screen drivers (Synaptics is a major supplier) by investment in Imagination Technologies and ELAN Microelectronics
- Backing Finisar (laser facial scanner in iPhone X) to increase the supply of its TrueDepth camera and AR system
- Creation of original Apple only media content signing Oprah Winfrey
- Its work in AI
- Its work in autonomous vehicles
- A $4.5billion investment in Didi Chuxing – a mobile transportation platform, offering a full range of commuting options to 400 cities in China. It has 300 million users across over 400 Chinese cities, including taxi hailing, private car-hailing, Hitch (social ride-sharing), DiDi Chauffeur, DiDi Bus, DiDi Test Drive, DiDi Car Rental, and DiDi Enterprise Solutions.
Apple is just doing what successful companies do
It needs to reduce its reliance on other companies, control its supply chain and make as much of the dollar spent on Apple goods and services.
To be fair, Samsung and to a lesser extent, Huawei, controls much of their supply chain. And that is why they can be more successful than smaller companies who buy from them.