Qualcomm and Apple Partnership Crumbled Over Fears Apple Would Leak Qualcomm Software to Competitors

Apple and Qualcomm are embroiled in a bitter legal battle over licensing and royalty fees that's lasted for two years now and has led to the breakdown of the relationship between the two companies, but there may have been other factors in the breakup.

Leaked emails between Apple COO Jeff Williams and Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf seen by Bloomberg suggest the two companies may have cut ties over software access.

iphonexsxsmax
Williams wanted to continue to work with Qualcomm despite the legal battle, but Qualcomm accused Apple of leaking Qualcomm computer code needed to customize mobile chips. Williams offered to "firewall" the Apple engineers using the Qualcomm software and said nothing of value could be obtained from the code anyway.

"In my wildest imagination of some evil intention of Apple, I have trouble coming up with a real scenario where anything of significant value could be leaked based on this code," Williams wrote in September 2017.

Mollenkopf told Williams that he was concerned about protecting Qualcomm's proprietary information, and while he offered to provide software access to Apple, he asked Apple to commit to using Qualcomm chips in at least 50 percent of iPhones over the next two years.

Qualcomm in September 2018 accused Apple of stealing confidential information and trade secrets and passing it on to rival chipmaker Intel. From Qualcomm's lawsuit against Apple:

Although discovery is ongoing, it is clear that Apple's conduct went far beyond simply breaching the contract originally sued on. Indeed, it is now apparent Apple engaged in a years-long campaign of false promises, stealth and subterfuge designed to steal Qualcomm's confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of improving the performance of lower-quality modem chipsets, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Qualcomm's Apple-based business.

As Bloomberg points out, it appears the software dispute was a key reason the two companies cut ties, as both were willing to continue to work together despite the legal battle. The fight has heated up since then, though, with Qualcomm winning import bans on iPhone 7 and ‌iPhone‌ 8 models in China and Germany.

Qualcomm is in court this week facing an antitrust lawsuit levied against it by the FTC, with the FTC accusing the company of using anticompetitive tactics and exorbitant licensing fees to remain the dominant baseband chip supplier.

Executives from many companies have testified against Qualcomm, including Jeff Williams. Earlier this week, Williams said that Qualcomm had refused to sell Apple chips for the 2018 ‌iPhone‌ models.

Top Rated Comments

JPack Avatar
33 months ago
Apple provided Qualcomm software development tools to Intel engineers.

I wonder how Apple would feel sharing its own ARM SoC development tools with Qualcomm or HiSilicon.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
laptech Avatar
33 months ago
I kinda understand Qualcomm's obsession with keeping their tech secret and proprietary, in the mobile industry there is Qualcomm and then there is everyone else. The problem is that Qualcomm's baseband processors and the software around them are so incredibly amazingly good they border on perfection. So, I really do hope that Apple and Qualcomm fix their squabbles and continue on the right track.
I agree. Qualcomm's product works extremely well. Qualcomm know they have an extremely good product so they are rightly in my opinion, exploiting it the best they can. Apple have done the same with many of their products and technology and patents so why shouldn't other companies. Or is that because Apple is the one being affected, no company who deals with them is allowed to exploit their technology but Apple on the other hand is allowed to exploit theirs!!

Apple do not like it that a company is doing to them what Apple have done to others. For decades Apple have gone to courts around the world fighting claims of other companies stealing their IP, stealing their ideas and stealing their technology. Along comes Qualcomm who have a superior product to anyone else and say's 'we have the best available, but it's gonna cost you' and Apple have turned round and said 'not fair, you cannot do this'.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chloros Avatar
33 months ago
Qualcomm is a joke. The sooner the CDMA tech isn’t used in the US, the better.
Apple is a joke.....they think they are the only company that can milk their customers?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
33 months ago
Apple claimed financial damages for Samsung "stealing" their rounded corners on phones but somehow Apple can't see how Qualcomm might sustain financial damages if Apple shared Qualcomm's proprietary software with a competitor?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
33 months ago
CDMA is dying tech. This reminds me of all the efforts to salvage Apple ][ tech that Apple struggled through, even fighting Apple ][ clones at one point. Qualcomm's efforts seem like a desperate effort to survive with antiquated proprietary tech until they have newer tech making any money.
It's not about CDMA. Intel modems already support CDMA, yet Apple still wanted Qualcomm modems for 2018 iPhones.

Qualcomm simply has a lead in LTE technologies and 5G.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjohnstone Avatar
33 months ago
Everything Qualcomm does relating to cellular chips covered in depth by industry standardisation documents and patents.

They don’t have any trade secrets to protect.
You couldn't be more wrong.
Qualcomm's diagnostic software for tuning modems and antennas is proprietary.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

General Apps Messages

All Three Major U.S. Carriers and Google Adopt Rich Communication Services, But No Sign of Apple Interest

Tuesday July 20, 2021 1:15 pm PDT by
For the last several years, Google has been pushing a new communications protocol called Rich Communication Services, or RCS. RCS is designed to replace SMS, the current text message standard, and it offers support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, bigger file sizes, better encryption, improved group chat, and more. Verizon today announced that it is planning to adopt...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

AirPods Pro Beta Firmware Now Available

Wednesday July 21, 2021 6:50 am PDT by
Upcoming AirPods Pro firmware updates are now available to Apple Developer Program members as beta versions. AirPods Pro firmware beta one features FaceTime Spatial Audio and Ambient Noise Reduction. Custom Transparency mode, including Conversation Boost, was initially expected to be included in the beta but appears to have been delayed for a later version. Apple made the announcement...
maxresdefault

Apple Music to Livestream Premiere of Kanye West's New Album 'Donda' on Thursday

Wednesday July 21, 2021 1:49 am PDT by
Apple Music on Thursday will host a global livestream for the premiere of Kanye West's tenth studio album, titled "Donda." The sold-out event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, and Apple Music's livestream will start at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The livestream was revealed in a Beats Studio Buds ad that aired during the NBA Finals. The ad features U.S. track...
ios wifi settings

Apple Confirms iOS 14.7 Fixes WiFi Bug and Many Other Vulnerabilities

Wednesday July 21, 2021 11:38 am PDT by
Following the release of iPadOS 14.7 this morning, Apple has shared details on the security updates that are included in iOS 14.7, iPadOS 14.7, macOS Big Sur 11.5, watchOS 7.6, and tvOS 14.7, all of which came out this week. Notably, Apple's documentation confirms that the iOS 14.7 and iPadOS 14.7 updates address a WiFi-related vulnerability that could impact iOS devices when joining a...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

Gurman: Redesigned MacBook Pros to Launch Between September and November

Sunday July 18, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
Apple can be expected to release its redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros sometime between September and November, as part of another packed fall season for new product launches, according to Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman says that the new MacBook Pros will go into production in the third quarter and can be expected to be...
macOS Malware Feature

Common Windows Malware Can Now Infect Macs

Wednesday July 21, 2021 8:13 am PDT by
A common form of malware on Windows systems has been modified into a new strain called "XLoader" that can also target macOS (via Bleeping Computer). Derived from the Formbook info-stealer for Windows, XLoader is a form of cross-platform malware advertised as a botnet with no dependencies. It is used to steal login credentials, capture screenshots, log keystrokes, and execute malicious files. ...
magsafe battery pack solo

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack

Tuesday July 20, 2021 11:14 am PDT by
The new MagSafe Battery Pack that Apple debuted this week is arriving to customers starting today and it's also now available for in-store pickup in many Apple retail locations around the world. We snagged one this morning and thought we'd take a look at it to let MacRumors readers know if it's worth the $99 asking price. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. As the name ...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.5 With Podcast App Updates and Bug Fixes

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.5, the fifth major update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November 2020. macOS Big Sur 11.5 comes two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.4. The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.5 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. macOS Big Sur...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 14.7 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday July 19, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 14.7, the seventh update to the tvOS 14 operating system that initially debuted in September 2020. tvOS 14.7 comes two months after the launch of the tvOS 14.6 update. tvOS 14.7, which is a free update, can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌Apple TV‌‌ owners who have automatic software ...
ipad pro m1 feature

Apple Releases iPadOS 14.7 With Apple Card Merging Option, Fix for 3.5mm Headphone Jack to USB-C Adapter Bug

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:18 am PDT by
Apple today released iPadOS 14.7, marking the seventh major update to the iPadOS operating system that came out in September 2020. Apple already released iOS 14.7 on July 19, but for some reason, delayed the iPadOS 14.7 debut until today. The iPadOS 14.7 update can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new ...