LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Warren East, who led ARM Holdings from start-up to near monopoly designer of smartphone chips, with its processors at the heart of Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy, is to step down as chief executive after 12 years.
Current group president Simon Segars will replace 51-year-old East from July, the British company said on Tuesday. East, who trained as an engineer, said it was time to move on but gave few clues on why he was leaving.
Since East joined in 1994, ARM has evolved from one processor product line to the world's dominant player in mobile computing, providing the microprocessors that run nearly all the world's smartphones, and around a third of all consumer devices.
"Obviously there's a part of me that would like to stay in this business forever, but we built the business with a team on the basis of collaborative thinking and planning far into the future," East said on a conference call with reporters.
"I believe now is the right time to bring in new leadership, somebody who can push the thinking even further forward and be sure to be around to implement those future plans."
ARM licenses its processor designs to chipmakers including Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. Its low-power processors have enabled it to dominate mobile computing, leaving rival Intel far behind in the sector.
In Cambridge, ARM has been at the heart of the so-called 'Silicon Fen', a cluster of high-tech firms at the southern tip of the English Fenland, about an hour's drive north of London. Founded in 1990, ARM now employs 2,300 people, with 2013 revenues forecast at around $1.03 billion.
"We've built a global company based here in the UK, proving it can be done in technology, and I intend to do a bit more of that," said East, who eschews the casual clothes and colourful style of California's Silicon Valley in favour of smart suits and a sober manner.