A deal between the two companies would mark a major shift for Intel, which has not manufactured chips on behalf of other companies. But according to a new analysis from Reuters, that could change under the chipmaker's next CEO, as the company faces shrinking PC sales.
According to a report filed on Thursday, Intel and Apple executives have had talks in the last year about the company making iPhone and iPad chips. No deal has been reached.
Currently, Apple relies on custom-designed ARM processors for its popular smartphone and tablet. All of those chips are built by rival Samsung, though there have been long standing rumors that Apple hopes to transition production away to chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Intel and Apple executives have reportedly had talks in the last year about making chips for the iPhone and iPad, though no deal has been reached.
Some industry watchers have expressed concern that TSMC may not be able to produce chips fast enough for Apple. That would require the iPhone maker to potentially find another partner to build its mobile CPUs.
Last week, Intel announced it plans to make chips designed by Altera, marking its entrance in the contract manufacturing business. The announcement has led to speculation that Apple could potentially turn to Intel to build its mobile chips.
Intel may be forced to shift its business model because its current strategy of building its own custom chips for smartphones and tablets ? designs that compete with chip designer ARM ? have yet to catch on. While Intel has been dominant in the PC market for years, supplying all of the CPUs for Apple's Macs and most Windows PCs, the company has not been able to counter ARM in the handheld market.
Intel is in the midst of a search for a new CEO to replace outgoing chief Paul Otellini. Two sources told Reuters that the company's board of directors "recently increased its focus on potential outside candidates."
Some market watchers believe an Intel outsider at the helm of the company could potentially focus on growing its contract manufacturing business, and potentially broker a deal with Apple.