Report: Apple might drop Qualcomm modems entirely


— 9:00 AM on November 1, 2017

Apple and Qualcomm have been poking at each other for some time. This year alone, Apple sued Qualcomm for its licensing practices, while Qualcomm sought a US import ban on some iPhone and iPad and attempted to halt Apple manufacturing and sales in China. Now, Apple seems to be looking to cut the chipmaker out entirely. According to reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, Apple is working on iPhone and iPad redesigns that would drop Qualcomm's chips in favor of other providers.

Apple historically used Qualcomm modems in its mobile devices, though in the last few years the Cupertino company began working with Intel for an increasing amount of its needs. Intel is currently providing upward of half of Apple's modem chips, according to Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon, who notes that the chipmaker has also recently acquired a firm that would let it take care of an even greater chunk of Apple's chip-related needs. Rasgon notes that Apple isn't the first company to make this move, remarking that "Samsung did this too [...] A couple years ago, Samsung designed Qualcomm out, but Qualcomm didn't even know until it was time to ship [Samsung's phones]".

Meanwhile, a Qualcomm spokesperson said that "the Qualcomm modem that could be used in the next-generation iPhone has already been fully tested and released to Apple," and that the company "is committed to supporting Apple's new devices." Stock prices are shifting after the report, with Qualcomm's stock down down 6.7% and Intel's up by 2.5%.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Apple wants to have multiple suppliers of components to help with price negotiations. Apple has time to resolve matters with Qualcomm or jump ship for Intel, depending on how the chips fall. Reuters further notes that should Apple decide to move away from Qualcomm, we wouldn't see the changes in the phones hitting shelves until next fall at the earliest.

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