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By building its own modems, Apple is giving Qualcomm the same fate as Intel

Soon Apple will have its own modems.

When Apple announced it was getting rid of Intel in its MacBooks in 2020, we were cautious, rather than skeptical. It must be said that the Cupertino company had been preparing for this adventure for years now and had acquired colossal experience on mobile processors, in particular thanks to the iPhone. But the release of the MacBook M1 has removed all our doubts: Apple has changed the way of doing mobile computing this year thanks to this work on its processor. Can the exploit be repeated with modems?

Intel technologies, redesigned by Apple

Tim Cook doing Oooooh to Intel… and soon to Qualcomm? // Source: Apple

This is the ambition that emerges from a meeting of the company’s top management with employees. She didn’t stay secret as she should and Bloomberg was able to collect some quotes, which confirm the plans of the company. Johny Srouji, vice president of hardware, announced: “ This year, we launched the development of our first cellular modem which will enable a new strategic transition. The goal for Apple is to break its dependence on Qualcomm, the company which, today, is almost in a monopoly situation in the market for modems present in mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, etc.

In 2019, Apple had prepared for this evolution towards a proprietary technology by buying the division for a billion dollars modem from Intel, with its technologies and its employees. The iPhone 12s, released in 2020, still have a Qualcomm, 5G modem for the first time, which means this investment is indeed a long-term project. It is this equipment, bought from a competitor, which will have the hard task of doing as well as its counterpart on the mobile processors side.

Because beyond the processor, graphics chipset and all the proprietary chips that Apple includes in its products, the modem is one of the most important components of a smartphone. It allows connectivity (4G or 5G) and in doing so, it requires a lot of resources on the battery side. For Apple, designing a home modem is the opportunity to master this component, from speeds to consumption. It remains to be seen when it will be ready: from 2021 for generation 13 of the iPhone?

In reaction to the announcement, Qualcomm stock fell 6.3%.

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