Apple has started working on its own cellular modem that would replace the current Qualcomm chips, according to a recent Bloomberg report. Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies stated as much at Apple's recent town hall meeting with employees, which immediately affected Qualcomm stock, dropping its value 4.4% in early trading.
Johny Srouji also stated, "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.”
- MacBook Air with M1 review
- Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020) review
- Apple iPhone 13 signals things are back to pre-Covid days
As we know, cellular modems are one of the most important chipsets in phones, and other devices that use wireless communications. Apple has had battles with both Intel and Qualcomm in the past over modem chips but purchased Intel's modem business in 2019 to start addressing these issues.
Johny Srouji said the $1 billion acquisition of Intel Corp.’s modem business in 2019 helped Apple build a team of engineers to develop its own cellular modem and that the modem is one of a few wireless chips the company designs (along with the W-series in the Apple Watch and U1 in the iPhone) itself.
However, fret not on Qualcomm's behalf because Srouji said he didn't know when a cellular modem would be ready to ship in products but, as Bloomberg noted, a 2019 patent agreement between Apple and Qualcomm includes a six-year licensing pact. Since Qualcomm charges license fees to phone makers based on wireless patents it owns, regardless of whether they use its chips or not, it looks like they'll still gain a profit even with Apple seemingly moving away from Qualcomm's chips.
In this humble observer's opinion, Apple seems to be cutting ties with as many third parties as possible while it makes its products even far more proprietary and in-house. My question to other computer and cell phone manufacturers is, will you follow suit? Are we going to see others start to develop CPUs, GPUs, and other chipsets in the future?