Apple Trying to Drop Qualcomm – Report
After months of legal wrangling, it is reported that Apple is now trying to design iPhones and iPads that don't use Qualcomm modems, but equivalents from rivals Intel and -- potentially -- MediaTek instead.
The Wall Street Journal Tuesday cited people familiar with Apple's motives in making the potential change. The WSJ reports that these sources say that Qualcomm has withheld testing software for the next generation of iPhones and iPads being designed now. For its part, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) told the WSJ this morning that it is "committed to supporting Apple’s new devices."
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Qualcomm's legal fight started in January of this year, with the vendor suing the chipmaker for $1 billion, claiming that Qualcomm was overcharging on patent licensing fees. The latest salvo coming from Qualcomm this month tries to stop Apple building devices in China. (See Qualcomm Sues to Stop Apple Making, Selling iPhone in China.)
Apple has used Qualcomm modems in its devices since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. But since the launch of the iPhone 7 in 2016, Apple has also added Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) modems to the mix.
In its latest iPhone 8 and iPhone X Apple is also rumored to have rate-limited modems to 600 Mbit/s. The company has not publicly commented on this. (See Apple's New iPhones: No Gigabit LTE for You! and When Is a Gig Not a Gig? When It's Gigabit LTE!)
Qualcomm reported that in July that its fiscal third-quarter revenue fell 11% and net income dropped 40% to $900 million, as a result of Apple withholding royalties. Qualcomm supplies the vast majority of smartphone makers globally -- but Apple still sits at the number one spot for share in the US, with 47% of the market according to Parks Associates , even as its latest iPhone X model is just coming to market.
Qualcomm, however, is generally considered the leading supplier of the latest "Gigabit LTE"-capable modems, with its forthcoming silicon, which Apple would likely be using for its latest prototpyes, aiming at peak speeds of 1.2 Gbit/s. Qualcomm has also just unveiled its first X50 single-chip 5G silicon, and a 5G smartphone based on its own reference design. Even as Apple is designing what is likely to be among its last pure 4G LTE devices, it will need silicon to prototype dual-mode 4G and 5G devices for the next decade. (See A 5G Apple iPhone? Don't Hold Your Breath!, Qualcomm: The First 5G Smartphone on Display? and Qualcomm Claims 5G Data Call First.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading