Intel Cites Apple-Qualcomm Settlement as Reason Behind Exiting 5G Smartphone Modem Business

Last week's surprise Apple and Qualcomm settlement and multiyear chipset supply agreement was the driving force behind Intel exiting the 5G smartphone modem business, according to Intel CEO Bob Swan.

Intel 5G Modem
"In light of the announcement of Apple and Qualcomm, we assessed the prospects for us to make money while delivering this technology for smartphones and concluded at the time that we just didn't see a path," Swan said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, as noted by The Verge.

Swan's comment suggests that Intel was surprised by the Apple-Qualcomm settlement and acted reactively when it announced its exit from the 5G smartphone modem business just hours later, but multiple reports indicate that Intel was unable to meet Apple's demands for 5G modems in 2020 iPhones.

It's hard to imagine that Apple and Qualcomm would have suddenly settled their bitter legal battle if Intel was able to supply 5G modems for 2020 iPhones, but Intel was reportedly struggling with its 5G modem development, possibly leaving Apple with little to no choice but to settle with Qualcomm.

iPhones have a long development cycle, so it was likely crunch time for Apple to choose a 5G modem supplier for its 2020 iPhones. Given this long lead time, Intel is still expected to supply LTE modems for 2019 iPhones.

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Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
67 months ago
For the record, I'd just like to cite rain as a possible reason behind the ground sometimes being wet, but I'm very eager to hear more from Intel on this Apple-Qualcomm matter.



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Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LordVic Avatar
67 months ago
The way this has been playing out is very interesting. Sounds like there was some sort of back room cartel like deal that Intel and Apple were working out in order to prop up Intel's modem business and technology. Without Apple, Intel either has no actual business with their 5g modems, and can't technologically keep up.

based on everything so far, this is how I feel like it was being played.


Apple goes after Qualcomm in hope to publicly diminish Qualcomm's value and market cap.

Crippling Qualcomm's public image and driving down the market cap makes Qualcomm ripe for hostile take-over. It was believed that Broadcom was a top candidate to purchase Qualcomm at that time. Broadcom seems historically far more likely to make Apple favoured deals.

Something changed, and the valuation didn't continue to drop like Apple wanted. Instead, Qualcomm was poised to win a large portion of the lawsuits, to the point where Apple themselves were threatened to losing ability to sell their iphone 6 through X in major markets. qualcomm's stock rebounds and no outside takeover possible.

Qualcom Wins the major sticking point between the two. Apple realized that they are now in a losing position, and settle with Qualcomm out of court. Judging from the rumours and information in the settlement, Apple got a worse deal than they originally even had.

During all this, there were rumours, and Qualcomm complained that Apple was demanding source code. Qualcomm believed that providing it to Apple, Apple was feeding details and technology from that code to Intel. This sounds like Apple was setting up a fall back plan should the original plan to drive Qualcomm value down. The backup plan being, Get Intel technology so that their modems could compete. Thus, if qualcomm deal falls through, They could rely on Intel's favourable pricing. Intel likely didn't have much other business in 5g modems, and relied on Apple feeding them tech from Qualcomm to continue their development work, in addition, without any other major purchasers, there was just no business sense to keep making Intel modems.


it's a really interesting story, and I honestly didn't expect the outcome we had.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
67 months ago
Makes total sense.

Intel expected a large order from Apple, and that order is now going to Qualcomm. That order would probably have been big enough to justify development cost to Intel. Now it's not.

This isn't anything shocking. The only shocking thing is how FAST they announced it right after the settlement.
That was prepared. The possible outcomes were: Apple wins and buys Intel chips. Apple wins and buys Qualcomm chips. Qualcomm wins and Apple buys Intel chips. Qualcomm wins and Apple buys Qualcomm chips. They settle and Apple buys Intel chips. They settle and Apple buys Qualcomm chips.

Intel had six press releases ready :-)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shyam09 Avatar
67 months ago
For the record, I'd just like to cite rain as a possible reason behind the ground sometimes being wet.
It doesn't feel normal to read your post without a gif.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
67 months ago
Talk about circular logic - the only reason Apple settled with Qualcomm was because Intel couldn't deliver a working 5G chipset within a reasonable amount of time.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
67 months ago
Oh, so NO FACTS at all, just some made-up numbers from some analyst.

I'm still waiting....


Meanwhile, you're conveniently forgetting Qualcomm has lost EVERY SINGLE antitrust case brought against them over modem licensing issues and has paid $4 billion in fines so far. And the FTC case still has to be decided (which should be fairly soon).

Must be nice to ignore FACTS like these and pretend they don't have any bearing at all on a case that was all about Qualcomm's illegal (illegal as they've been found guilt 5 times already) licensing model.
Yeah, I'll take an analyst's estimates who studies the industry and talks with its executives and suppliers over some random internet poster who's grasping at straws because he doesn't want look wrong in public. Have a nice day :)
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)