Qualcomm‘s outspoken Chief Marketing Officer Anand “Things That Are Dumb” Chandrasekher has been demoted, in a way, after stating that Apple’s 64-bit system-on-a-chip, the A7, is a “gimmick.” He wasn’t fired, just reassigned, but he is no longer listed as being on the leadership team on the Qualcomm website, and the company has publicly censured Chandrasekher. The reasons for Chandrasekher’s criticism and for Qualcomm’s ensuing response are of both a technical and a political nature.
The who’s-wrong-and-who’s-right of this drama hinges on Chandrasekher’s claim that 64 bits are an unnecessary CPU innovation in the consumer mobile device industry. Traditional wisdom has it 64 bits are better because they are faster than 32 bits and can take on more robust graphical applications. Chandrasekher’s contention was that 32 bits are more than sufficient for all consumer applications.
What Chandrasekher seemed to be implying was that the mobile device industry, which has begun its long march to 64-bit processing, is just taking advantage of a perceived popular ignorance about CPU technology. This implied accusation would jibe well with any claims that the tech industry in general is just releasing newer, shinier, unnecessary innovations in a cynical money grab. But if Chandrasekher–a marketing specialist, mind you–is wrong about the technical wisdom of his criticism, then Qualcomm was justified in publicly rebuking him.
Qualcomm’s chief interest in all this is that it is an industry player, and it too stands to benefit from bigger, better, faster processors. Its scope of operations is broad. It manufactures semiconductors, tracking devices, phones, software, and other products aimed at consumers and fellow industry players alike. The tightly interconnected nature of the tech industry at large must strike a balance between lively competition and go-along-to-get-along. From that perspective, Qualcomm’s move was simply a tactical decision whether it was technically justified or not.
Who is right? It’s fair to say neither Qualcomm nor any other large manufacturer is an unbiased source of information about the Apple A7 SoC, which is already used in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and second-generation iPad mini. Industry players may know best what they’re talking about, but they’re also in the game for the money, and rightly so.
What’s certain is the iPhone 5s is, by most standards and according to most tests, the fastest smartphone on the market (not to mention the fastest-selling iPhone in history). Whether this is due to its 64-bit A7 SoC is up for lively debate. This reporter opts to pass the burden of the verdict on to the comment section.