Market research firm NPD In-Stat believes that Apple will become the top-seller of mobile processors due to the success of its iPhone and iPad devices.
Of course, there is no reason to believe that Intel will give up its leadership position in x86 notebook processors, but there is an ongoing shift in the use of ARM-based processors in compact computing products, such as laptops and smartphones.
"Apple will likely capture the top spot in 2012, driven by its success in devices, such as the iPhone and iPad," said Jim McGregor, NPD In-Stat's chief technology strategist, in a statement published by PC Mag. "Other companies that benefitted greatly from new product releases or dominance by their OEM customers included Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and Samsung." McGregor estimates that ARM will take about 73 percent of the mobile processor market this year.
"Although the total available market for mobile processors continues to grow, the emergence of industry leaders in the high-growth mobile device segment is becoming a key factor in the success of processor vendors," McGregor said. "Just having a captive market has propelled Apple into second place [in 2011] for the entire mobile processor market just behind industry leader Intel."
Intel's Medfield processor, which will debut this year in smartphones, can capture substantial market share in the mobile processor market as defined by In-Stat. The market research firm, however, believes that it will not arrive soon enough this year to make a big impact.