Apple develops its own processors for its mobile devices, but it relies on modems from Intel and Qualcomm for network connectivity. While Apple fought with Qualcomm over patents and royalties, Intel became the company’s top choice for modems. After the dispute was settled, Intel gave up trying to make a 5G modem, and now Apple is buying its entire modem division.
In a press release, Apple announced that it is acquiring “the majority of Intelâ€™s smartphone modem business,” including intellectual property, equipment, and leases. The deal is valued at $1 billion, and around 2,200 Intel employees are expected to join Apple.
Once the acquisition is complete (likely in Q4 2019, pending regulatory approval), Apple intends to develop its own 5G modems to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm. The iPhone XS used modems exclusively from Intel, though Apple says Qualcomm refused to supply them.
Sadly, this leaves Qualcomm as the only choice for 5G Android phones for the foreseeable future. Even though the company is years ahead of anyone else on 5G, a lack of competition won’t help anyone.