Apple has started working on a cellular modem
13th December, 2020 at 2:08 am by Flynn
- This move would replace components from Qualcomm.
- “Our first internal cellular modem which will enable another key strategic transition” - Johny Srouji
- Apple purchased Intel’s modem business in 2019 for $1B.
- A 2019 patent agreement between Apple and Qualcomm includes a six-year licensing pact.
- Apple has been hiring employees from Qualcomm for years, with offices in San Diego, Cupertino and Europe working on the effort.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has started building its own cellular modem — most likely for a future version of the iPhone. Bloomberg noted that this move would replace components from Qualcomm. As we have previously reported, tensions between the two companies have been escalating recently — which makes this news somewhat expected by industry analysts.
“This year, we kicked off the development of our first internal cellular modem which will enable another key strategic transition,” he said. “Long-term strategic investments like these are a critical part of enabling our products and making sure we have a rich pipeline of innovative technologies for our future.” — Apple’s top chip executive, Johny Srouji, told staff on Thursday that in a town hall meeting with Apple employees.
Srouji said the $1 billion acquisition of Intel’s modem business in 2019 helped Apple build a team of hardware and software engineers to develop its own cellular modem. He said the modem is one of a few wireless chips the company designs, including the W-series in the Apple Watch and the U1 ultrawide-band chip in the iPhone for precise location data. Qualcomm shares fell 4.4% after the news was made public by several news publications. The cellular modem enables phone calls and connection to the Internet via cellular networks. With the iPhone 12 series released this year, Apple has been using 5G parts from Qualcomm. Srouji did not say when the cellular modem would ship in Apple products, but a 2019 patent agreement between Apple and Qualcomm includes a six-year licensing pact. Qualcomm charges license fees to phone makers based on their wireless patents, regardless of whether they use Qualcomm chips or not. Apple has been hiring employees from Qualcomm for years to help build its in-house modem - with complexes in San Diego, Cupertino and Europe working on the effort.
"In the meeting with employees, Srouji also highlighted Apple’s other work on chips, including the new M1 processors in the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini. Apple is working on a “family” of Mac chips, Srouji said. Apple is planning upgrades that are designed to improve on Intel’s fastest computer chips" — Bloomberg
Apple shipped its first custom chip in 2010 with the A4 processor in the iPhone 4 and original iPad. Since then, Apple has expanded on this with camera processors, AI chips and motion chips, along with chips for Apple Watches, Apple TVs and headphones. Apple’s most recent move came with the M1 at the expense of Intel, who made 7% of their yearly sales from the company. Qualcomm currently makes 11% of their revenue from Apple, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.