Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPod has been an amazing hit over the last several years, driving Apple's results and stock price, as this chart shows. It's not too surprising, then, that semiconductor manufacturers fight over the iPod like two siblings quarreling over who gets to ride in the front seat on the way to the grocery store.

According to an EETimes article, NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) is the latest winner. Apple is apparently planning to use an NVIDIA chip for video processing in the next version of the video iPod. The spurned loser in this case happens to be Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM), which provides video-processing duties for the current video iPod.

Meanwhile, PortalPlayer (NASDAQ:PLAY) makes a chip that performs audio processing duties in the current video iPod, but we don't know yet whether this will change in the next version. Nevertheless, it seems likely to me that at some point, the video and audio processing will be done on a single chip, which may well lead to another change in the status quo.

For now, though, PortalPlayer certainly hopes to retain its audio spot. Earlier this year, it lost its position in the iPod nano to a Samsung chip, resulting in a swift and painful karate chop to its stock price. Samsung may have had an advantage, due to its ability to supply Apple with the NAND flash memory used to store music in the Nano. If Samsung could make enough money from the flash memory it sold Apple, it may have been willing to give the Mac maker a great deal on its audio chip.

Don't feel too sorry for PortalPlayer. Its spot in the iPod nano was won despite another company having a strong presence in the market and a relationship with Apple. Apple used a Sigmatel (NASDAQ:SGTL) chip in the iPod Shuffle, and Sigmatel could have been viewed as a favorite for the Nano. No such luck, however -- though Sigmatel is probably feeling lucky to hold onto its spot in the Shuffle . for now.

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Fool contributor Dan Bloom owns shares of Sigmatel -- as well as a video iPod. He's happy that it has taken so long for Apple to make it obsolete. He can be reached at blm_dn@yahoo.com. The Fool's disclosure policy is irresistibly shiny.