64-bit chip not coming soon to an Android smartphone near you

While Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Nvidia announced their first 64-bit mobile processors at the 2014 Mobile World Congress, Android smartphones running 64-bit chips are unlikely to hit the market before the second half of the year, judges ABI Research.

By the end of 2014, ABI forecasts shipments of 64-bit mobile processors to exceed 182 million, but only 20 percent of those will be in Android devices.

Apple's iPhone 5S, launched in September last year, touted a 64-bit A7 chip supplied by ARM. At the time, Qualcomm Chief Marketing Officer Anand Chandrasekhar termed the inclusion of the 64-bit a "marketing ploy" by Apple. Qualcomm subsequently retracted that statement.

At the time, a number of analysts and iOS app developers praised the move because the chip enables much faster processing speeds for apps.

"We believe that longer term it is a game changer as apps are rewritten and cross platform capabilities become utilized. We view 64-bit as an example of the investments Apple needs to make to stay competitive despite limited near-term payback," Jefferies analyst Peter Misek commented about the 64-bit A7 chip.

The Motley Fool said that Apple's move "sets the stage for developers to begin optimizing apps for 64-bit before a device that can fully utilize the technology arrives. Second, it builds the foundation for a potential 13-inch iPad."

ABI forecasts that shipments of 64-bit processors targeting smartphones and tablets will exceed 1.12 billion units by 2018, or more than half of the market. Android devices will be leading consumption of these chips with 60 percent market share, followed by Apple's iOS with 30 percent and Microsoft Windows in the third position with less than 9 percent market share.

Dominant 64-bit chip ARM architecture will gradually lose market share to x86 architecture, which is forecast to gain about 10 percent of the total market by 2018.

"A number of early adopters will initially use 64-bit as a catchy marketing strategy to easily communicate differentiation using 'more-is-better' adage previously used for promoting performance in the multi-core processor race. This is not to say that 64-bit processing will not add any significant value to the Android sphere but the benefits of this technology will become apparent only when its implementation over Android matures," comments Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research.

For more:
- see the ABI release
- check out the Wired story
- read The Motley Fool analysis

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