During the MWC 2023, Qualcomm’s CEO Cristiano Amon commented that he believes Qualcomm will not be supplying modems to Apple in 2024, although the final decision rests with Apple. Amon suggested that if the company manages to develop its own 5G modem for iPhones that can match or exceed the performance of Qualcomm’s modems, while also being more cost-effective, Apple might opt for its in-house solution.
Apple Inc. is reportedly considering developing its own 5G modem for iPhones, according to comments made by Qualcomm Inc. CEO Cristiano Amon during a recent earnings call. The move could have significant implications for both companies, as well as the broader mobile industry.
Qualcomm has long been a major supplier of wireless chips and modems for Apple, but that relationship has been fraught with legal battles and patent disputes. In 2019, the two companies settled a years-long dispute over royalty payments and licensing fees, paving the way for Qualcomm to resume supplying modems to Apple for its iPhone line.
However, Amon hinted during the earnings call that Apple may be looking to move away from Qualcomm’s modems and develop its own in-house technology. “We have a strong relationship with Apple,” he said. “We believe we’ll continue that strong relationship, but we know also that they’re exploring their own modem development. We think that’s a testament to the strength of our IP.”
Apple has not yet confirmed or denied Amon’s comments, but the company has been rumored to be working on its own 5G modem for some time. In 2019, The company acquired Intel’s modem business, which included thousands of patents and hundreds of engineers with experience in developing wireless technology. At the time, the company said the acquisition would help the company “accelerate its development of future products and allow us to further differentiate” its offerings.
Since then, Apple has reportedly been investing heavily in its wireless technology capabilities. In October 2020, the company posted several job listings for wireless system engineers, including one that specifically mentioned “5G modem firmware development.”
If Apple were to develop its own 5G modem, it would be a major shift for the company, which has historically relied on third-party suppliers for many of its components. Developing a modem in-house could give the company greater control over the performance and features of its devices, as well as potentially reducing costs.
However, it would also represent a significant challenge. Developing a modem requires significant expertise in wireless technology, as well as access to patents and proprietary information. It can also be a costly endeavor, as evidenced by the struggles faced by Intel’s modem business before it was sold to Apple.
Additionally, the company would need to secure regulatory approval for any new modem it developed. In the past, the company has faced regulatory scrutiny over the power management features in its iPhones, and any new wireless technology would likely be subject to similar scrutiny.
If Apple were to develop its own 5G modem, it could have significant implications for Qualcomm, which currently supplies modems for most of the world’s 5G smartphones. While the company represents a relatively small portion of Qualcomm’s overall revenue, losing such a high-profile customer would be a blow to the company’s reputation.
It could also have implications for the broader mobile industry, which is currently dominated by a handful of players. If Apple were to successfully develop its own 5G modem, it could potentially disrupt the market and open the door for other companies to do the same. This could lead to a more diverse and competitive industry, which could ultimately benefit consumers.
However, it remains to be seen whether Apple will actually move forward with developing its own 5G modem. The company has a history of exploring new technologies and acquiring companies without ultimately bringing products to market. It may be that Apple is simply testing the waters and exploring its options, rather than committing to a major shift in strategy.
Regardless of whether Apple ultimately develops its own 5G modem, the comments from Qualcomm’s CEO suggest that the company is taking the possibility seriously. The mobile industry is constantly evolving, and any major shift in strategy from a major player like Apple is sure to have ripple effects throughout the industry.
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