At the heart of 90% of global smart phones
Wherever you are in the world, whatever you are doing, at home, in your car, at work, the chances are very high you have ARM technology in your pocket, on your desk or right in front of you.
Its microprocessors drive most mobile phones, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and the iPhone, as well as many tablets and gaming consoles, not to mention applications such as GPS, digital TVs and networking applications, including Bluetooth, WiFi and broadband. ARM’s tech drives 85% of car infotainment systems and much else under the bonnet.
It can make a real claim to being the brain and part of the nervous system for the information technology revolution. The slightly odd thing is, it is a brain with no body.
Unlike most better known microprocessing companies, such as Intel, ARM dreams up the technology and licenses its ideas to other companies to manufacture. In other words it has very little in the way of tangible assets. All its power and influence is based on smart people continually coming up with good ideas. In that way, it’s a neat metaphor for Britain’s competitive advantage. There is a very big market out there for free-thinkers.
ARM was born in the 1980s as a joint-venture between Cambridge-based Acorn Computers and Apple (it originally stood for Acorn RISC Machine). It became an independent company in 1990 and listed in London and on Nasdaq in 1999.
In 2016 it was acquired by SoftBank Group, which valued the business at £24 billion. Not bad for a company with few assets and just 3,000 employees globally. The business retains its Cambridge HQ.