Qualcomm is a giant company that has a tight grip on the mobile industry, with its chips basically dominating the market, from Android to iOS.
However, as of late, Apple has leaned heavily towards Intel, especially in light of a long-running legal battle between it and Qualcomm. And now, Qualcomm’s lawyers have managed to get Apple to admit, on the record, that the only chips it could have used in consumer-ready iPhones were available from Qualcomm. That’s the latest report from Bloomberg, which states that Apple’s Director of Cellular Systems Architecture, Matthias Sauer, admitted that Qualcomm was the only company with a 4G-ready chip ready to go for the iPhone that required it.
Sauer says that, dating back to 2012, Apple considered other companies as 4G-ready chip suppliers, including Broadcom, Intel, and Ericsson. However, while the company tried to find another company, none of them were creating chips that met “Apple’s desired specifications”.
“Sauer testified that Apple considered the likes of Ericsson, Broadcom and Intel Corp. as component suppliers for devices as early as the 2012 planning phase for new products, but none could deliver to Apple’s desired specifications. It wasn’t until Apple launched the iPhone 7 in September 2016 that anyone other than Qualcomm supplied chips for an LTE-ready Apple device.”
Sauer would go on to add that the inclusion of an Intel chip in the 2014 iPad was a “business decision”, and that it had nothing to do with finding a chip that met specific bullet points was no longer a priority at the time.
Qualcomm is currently in a battle with the FTC over market dominance. The FTC, and other companies (including Apple) have tried to raise a point that Qualcomm’s presence leads the company to demand higher-than-expected royalties and licensing fees. However, while Qualcomm does admit that it’s the market leader, it’s actually the other way around that companies seek it out. It isn’t because the company locks them into these expensive deals, but rather that they choose Qualcomm on their own because its chips are the best ones available. As a result of that leading role, it believes it should be compensated to match — those aforementioned high royalties and licensing fees.
Up to this point, the battle between Apple and Qualcomm doesn’t seem to have a resolution in sight. We recently heard that Apple wanted to use Qualcomm chips in the 2018 iPhone lineup, but Qualcomm wouldn’t sell. Before that revelation, Qualcomm was successful in getting a sales ban on certain iPhone models in Germany.