This week saw Qualcomm, Apple, and other companies in court in relation to the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm. The claim is that the company used anticompetitive tactics in an attempt to become, and remain, the main supplier for modems used in smartphones.
With the ongoing court case, we’re starting to hear from some of Apple’s witnesses, and that means that we’re starting to hear some tidbits of which we weren’t previously aware. The most interesting comes via Apple supply chain exec Tony Blevins, who said that Apple considered using 5G modems from multiple companies for its 2019 iPhone lineup, including Samsung and MediaTek. It’s unknown what the ultimate decision was there with Apple rumors having said that it didn’t plan to offer 5G this year.
Qualcomm was Apple’s sole supplier for iPhone modems from 2011 to 2016, but that all changed with the iPhone 7 when Intel was brought on board. That later became an Intel exclusivity deal, with Qualcomm removed from the equation due to the two companies’ legal spat. It’s claimed that Qualcomm offered rebates on patent licenses if Apple used Qualcomm modems only. The iPad mini 2 was apparently set to use Intel modems until it was decided that the loss of Qualcomm rebates made Intel’s competing modem “economically unattractive.”
With Intel now the only modem supplier Apple uses, it seems that was never actually the plan. Apple would rather diversify, rather than being reliant on one company for all modems.
“The entire concept of Project Antique was to find a second supplier. No offense to [Intel] but we don’t want to be single supplier with them. We wanted both Qualcomm and [Intel] in the mix,” Blevins said.
2019 iPhone renders by Digit.in
Rumors have long suggested that Apple doesn’t plan to enter the 5G arena this year, so it’s unclear whether Blevins is misspeaking when mentioning the standard, or if Apple’s plans have changed. It is, of course, also possible the rumors are wrong!
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