In one of the most surprising pieces of news, Apple hits a roadblock on its way to becoming a popular futuristic tech gadget. The company’s plan to replace Qualcomm 5G modems with its own upcoming iPhone models became a major hit. Here is everything you need to know about Apple’s failed plan.
Apple’s Failed Endeavours
As Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo writes, Apple’s efforts to develop its own 5G modem chip have not yielded an adequate replacement. He says that Apple’s efforts thus far “have failed”. His latest supply-side surveys indicated that Apple was unable to develop a custom 5G modem of its own in time for the 2023 iPhone series (iPhone 15).
Due to the rumoured delays in development, Kuo believes that Apple will resort to using Qualcomm modems for the 2023 iPhones again. Previously, Qualcomm executives had warned investors that it expected to lose up to 80% of the Apple business by 2023, as Apple planned to use its chip instead.
History of the Apple-Qualcomm Association
Apple and Qualcomm have long been partners, but the relationship has also been bittersweet. A few years ago, Apple and Qualcomm engaged in fierce litigation across multiple jurisdictions. Ultimately, the lawsuit either created or accelerated Apple’s desire to kick Qualcomm to the curb. During the litigation, Apple argued that Qualcomm was profiting from Apple innovations that had nothing to do with modem chips. Moreover, it sued Qualcomm for $1 billion in the US. The companies faced off in courts around the world over Qualcomm’s licensing fees and how it sold its chips.
Later in 2019, the companies signed a settlement that included a six-year patent licensing agreement and an arrangement to use Qualcomm parts. The chipset agreement indicated that Qualcomm would supply some but not all 5G modems for iPhones to Apple through 2024, according to a statement of work released as part of court documents.
Although Apple ultimately settled its lawsuit with Qualcomm in 2019, by then, work on an Apple-designed 5G modem was already underway. However, as a part of the deal, Apple acquired all of Intel’s IP and modem technology equipment.
Apple’s acquisition only solidified its 5G plans and its underlying desire to remove Qualcomm as a supplier. It stands to reason that an iPhone with an Apple-designed 5G modem is an issue of when as opposed to it.
In recent years, various rumours had pointed to Apple using their own 5G modems on all iPhone models, starting with the iPhone 15 in 2023. That is seemingly not the case anymore. Apple has long preferred to own the underlying technologies used in its products. However, these days, the entirety of Apple’s hardware lineup utilizes processors featuring Apple designs.
Moreover, shortly after Kuo’s tweet, Qualcomm shares climbed more than 3%. An Apple representative declined to comment. Apple has thousands of people working on the initiative and has a strong track record. Thus, while a 5G iPhone with an Apple-designed modem may not be coming on the iPhone 15, others suggested that it might be ready to ship in time for the 2025 iPhone release.
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Anwesha has been a creative writer for a while. Currently, on her pursuit of tech writing, she is diving into the realms of technology to produce better content on the forever-changing world of technology. In her free time, you’ll find her humming tunes of her favourite shows or reading a book.