Qualcomm Expecting to Supply Just 20% of 2023 iPhone Modems As Apple Prepares to Launch Its Own Chips
Qualcomm is preparing for the launch of Apple's own modem chips, which will cut into Qualcomm's modem business starting in 2023. At today's Investor Day event, Qualcomm CFO Akash Palkhiwala said that Qualcomm expects to supply just 20 percent of Apple's modem chips in 2023.
If that's an accurate estimate, it means that 2022 will be the last year that Qualcomm enjoys a modem monopoly in iPhone devices. Apple has been working on in-house modem chips for years now, and prior rumors have indeed suggested that Apple's chips will be ready to launch in 2023.
Back in May, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple's 5G baseband chips could debut in the 2023 iPhone models, which is in line with Qualcomm's expectations. Should this occur, Apple will likely use its own chips in most regions, but rely on Qualcomm for chips in certain areas. Qualcomm said that this is just a "planning assumption for forecast purposes," but it appears the company is counting on a 2023 launch.
The assumption we use for this forecast is that for Apple 2023 launch, our share is down to 20%. This is a planning assumption for the forecast purposes. Just to be clear, there is no new data point that makes us do this forecast versus our discussions in the past. We just wanted to set a base for this forecast, and so we've used that as a planning assumption.
Apple tried to transition away from Qualcomm chips once before following a heated legal battle between the two companies. Apple wanted Intel to supply its 5G chips for the iPhone 12 models, but Intel could not meet Apple's expectations.
In 2019, Apple and Qualcomm settled their legal issues and Apple agreed to a multi-year partnership because it had no other place to get the appropriate chips it needed for its devices. Apple also began work on its own in-house modem chips with the aim of eventually getting away from Qualcomm, with Apple purchasing Intel's modem chip business to get a head start.