Apple in 'Advanced Talks' to Buy Intel's Smartphone Modem Chip Business

Apple is now in advanced talks to purchase Intel's smartphone modem chip business, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with Apple's plans.

A deal that covers a portfolio of patents and staff valued at $1 billion or more could be established as soon as next week if the talks continue.

Intel 5G Modem
Apple and Intel have reportedly been in on and off talks for approximately a year. As reported earlier, the talks ended right around the time that Apple and Qualcomm settled their legal disputes and reached a new supply agreement.

Intel sought other buyers and found other interested parties, but discussions with Apple resumed shortly after they ended.

The Apple-Intel discussions began last summer, around the time former Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich resigned, people familiar with the matter have said. Mr. Krzanich championed the modem business and touted 5G technology as a big future revenue stream. When Bob Swan was named to that job in January, analysts said the odds of a deal rose because his focus on cleaning up Intel would require addressing the losses in the modem business.

As noted by The Wall Street Journal, purchasing Intel's modem chip business would provide Apple with a leg up on its efforts to develop its own modem chips in house, which would ultimately make the company less reliant on Qualcomm.

Apple has been working on developing its own modem chips since at least 2018, but the technology isn't expected to be ready for use in iPhones and iPads for a few years.

Intel in April announced that it was exiting the 5G smartphone modem business, sharing the news just after Apple and Qualcomm announced their new deal. Since then, Intel has been seeking a buyer for its smartphone modem business.

Apple had been planning to use Intel's 5G chips for its 2020 iPhones, but rumors suggested Intel wasn't able to meet design deadlines, souring the relationship between the two companies. Apple now plans to use Qualcomm's 5G modem chips in its 2020 iPhones and has established a deal for chips for future devices as well.

Tag: Intel

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Top Rated Comments

cmaier Avatar
64 months ago
Yes, Qualcomm will still get some cash (from patent licensing, when Apple eventually starts making their own modem chips), but Apple will gain more control of the hardware they use. They have a long history of being pained by other's control of the hardware/tools they need - most famously when they switched to PowerPC, and then after a few years IBM stopped caring about making faster/better processors that Apple could use. Apple jumped to Intel CPUs because in the Intel pond at least they could get the same options everyone else was getting. Then they started making (yes, not fabbing, but designing) their own ARM CPUs, which does give them nearly complete control over the CPUs they need (for iOS), and now iPhones are shipping with CPUs that are perfect for them, and tend to beat the CPUs the Android manufacturers use quite handily. It's clear that eventually, the Mac will switch to Apple designed processors (I don't expect that any time soon).

Apple did a great job on their ARM chips, if they can do similarly well on modem chips, they can get exactly the modem chips they want, and pay Qualcomm only for patent licensing.
They can also potentially build the modem directly into the A-series die, reducing overall power consumption, allowing more room for battery, etc.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dumastudetto Avatar
64 months ago
Soooo the iPhone would still be crippled with rubbish modems then. Stupid move to make if you ask me.
Apple tends to not produce rubbish anything when they take things in-house. Their custom chips are industry-leading across the board.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
64 months ago
And Snapdragon. Makes me SO ANGRY when people say Apple’s inferior A chips are better than Snapdragon. This is false. Scientific evidence on YouTube videos doing app launch testing proves this. MAKES ME ANGRY!!!
Scientific. tee hee.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Smeaton1724 Avatar
64 months ago
Gives Apple something to bring to the table when negotiating with Qualcomm. The value is in the swathe of patents rather than better than Qualcomm technology.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FFR Avatar
64 months ago
What Johny comes up with? Didn't he officially leave Apple?
That was aloo-minum jony, he is out.

I’m talking about a-series johny, he is a genius when it comes to silicon.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
64 months ago
I just can’t imagine a scenario here where Apple buys Intel’s modem portfolio and stops paying Qualcomm royalties for theirs.

Yeah, they’ll probably be able to make their own with this acquisition but Qualcomm will get some cash for every chip they make.
Yes, Qualcomm will still get some cash (from patent licensing, when Apple eventually starts making their own modem chips), but Apple will gain more control of the hardware they use. They have a long history of being pained by other's control of the hardware/tools they need - most famously when they switched to PowerPC, and then after a few years IBM stopped caring about making faster/better processors that Apple could use. Apple jumped to Intel CPUs because in the Intel pond at least they could get the same options everyone else was getting. Then they started making (yes, not fabbing, but designing) their own ARM CPUs, which does give them nearly complete control over the CPUs they need (for iOS), and now iPhones are shipping with CPUs that are perfect for them, and tend to beat the CPUs the Android manufacturers use quite handily. It's clear that eventually, the Mac will switch to Apple designed processors (I don't expect that any time soon).

Apple did a great job on their ARM chips, if they can do similarly well on modem chips, they can get exactly the modem chips they want, and pay Qualcomm only for patent licensing.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)