Intel Kills 5G Modem Plans

Kenny Grant
April 17, 2019

Apple and Qualcomm announced a chipset supply agreement yesterday so this year's upgrades should revert to using Qualcomm - to sighs of relief from some of the potential upgraders. Companies sometimes make these sorts of calls - or simultaneously fight each other in court while collaborating on business matters, as Apple and Samsung have done.

Following Tuesday's announcement, Qualcomm stock jumped 23 percent, closing at $70.45. Apple is due to report its quarterly results on April 30 while Qualcomm is scheduled to release its numbers on May 1. Qualcomm, in turn, is seeking billions of dollars in unpaid royalties from Apple's Asian contractors that assemble its iPhones and iPads.

The settlement includes an unspecified payment from Apple to Qualcomm, which produced computer chips for the former's iPhone, the companies said in a joint statement. The company has been developing its own modems but those weren't expected to be ready until 2020 at the earliest, with 2021 being a more realistic date.

Qualcomm demanded $7 billion in royalties while Apple asked for $27 billion in compensation for unfair business practices.

The surprise truce announced Tuesday came just as the former allies turned antagonists were facing off in a federal court trial that was supposed to unfold over the next month in San Diego.

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Apple started using Qualcomm's chips, which allow the iPhone to connect to cellular networks, in 2011.

Intel Corp, the sole supplier of modem chips for iPhones, has said its 5G chips will not appear in mobile phones until 2020, raising the possibility that Apple, its biggest customer, will be more than a year behind rivals in delivering a device that uses the faster 5G networks.

As part of the settlement, Apple will now pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount related to royalties the chipmaker accused Apple of purposefully withholding as part of the dispute during a new, six-year global patent licensing agreement that may in the future be extended another two years. In short, Qualcomm is getting paid twice for the same technology.

Qualcomm has always been a dominant player in the wireless chip business for smartphones. The decision allowed Apple to concentrate on making touchscreen computers and helped turn marketing genius Steve Jobs' project into the most valuable company on Earth. For example, in one case, Qualcomm asked a United States federal judge to ban the sale of iPhones. Apple CEO Tim Cook contradicted him shortly after, saying that Apple hasn't been in settlement discussions since the third calendar quarter of 2018.

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