Eager Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) fans and gadget junkies the world over can finally get their hands on a stylish 3G version of their dream phone. Some will use it to browse the Internet, others might make a few phone calls, and still others might use it to replace their old iPod. Most customers will be very careful with their prized new possessions, because you don't want to scratch and scuff something so beautiful.
Then again, a select few bought an iPhone just to take it apart.
Mac fan site iFixit sent reporters to New Zealand to get the earliest possible jump on the iPhone release across the time zones, then immediately posted a detailed breakdown of the device's innards. So which semiconductor makers broke new ground inside Apple, and which ones held onto their old spots?
The main processor is an ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) design, probably manufactured by Samsung and disguised with Apple-branded markings. That's pretty much a rerun of last year's show, when the main chip was a 620MHz ARM/Samsung/Apple design. Score one for the incumbent team.
Other major components look largely the same, including heaps of Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) flash memory and a multimedia engine from Infineon (NYSE: IFX ) . The early reports haven't found the Wi-Fi and wireless transceiver chips yet, so we don't know whether Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL ) kept its Wi-Fi spot on the breadboard, or whether Infineon's role shrank after all.
But the big winner in the new iPhone is small-cap chip designer TriQuint (Nasdaq: TQNT ) , with three power amplifier components. Without pricing information, which will come next week when iSuppli does its customary detailed analysis, it is tough to estimate the economic impact of TriQuint's contract. Still, keep in mind that the company's total revenue last year was a modest $476 million -- and Apple has sold several million first-generation iPhones. It doesn't take a huge slice of the hardware costs to make a significant impact on TriQuint's results, assuming that the iPhone's encore is as big a hit as its first presentation.
So this release will obviously help Apple and resellers like AT&T (NYSE: T ) , but it's status quo for most of its component providers. TriQuint would be the exception.