Apple might buy Intel’s 5G modem business

Apple may be concluding an agreement to purchase Intel’s $1 billion abandoned smartphone modem company, with the Wall Street Journal reporting today that an agreement could be announced as soon as next week.

Intel announced back in April that it was withdrawing from the 5G mobile modem business previously this year after Apple reached a surprise settlement with Qualcomm that would see Apple return to using Qualcomm’s modems in their devices again. Intel CEO Bob Swan went on to explain that Intel had left the modem business due to Apple’s settlement — without Apple as a client, the firm found that it “just didn’t see a path forward.”

According to a Bloomberg report at the time, Apple allegedly decided that Intel would not be able to provide the iPhone with a 5G modem in a timeframe that worked with its plans to release 5G-ready smartphones, forcing Apple to reconcile with Qualcomm after years of litigious legal conflicts. Now, in the next week, sources inform the WSJ, an agreement could be reached for Apple to obtain that part of Intel’s company, covering a portfolio of patents and employees valued at $1 billion or more.

Intel has allegedly started looking for a buyer for its modem company after the Apple / Qualcomm agreement. And it turns out that Apple as a customer makes a lot of sense. Before the settlement of Apple and Qualcomm, Intel was the only third-party modem supplier for the iPhone’s 2018 models. And Apple has long been Intel’s only significant modem client— almost every significant Android phone depends on either Qualcomm or in-house solutions.

While Apple has a fresh agreement with Qualcomm, it is reported that the well-known controlling technology firm was already working on creating its own in-house modems, comparable to its current inner CPU platform, resulting in proprietary A-series chipsets for the iPhone and iPad. Adding Intel’s portfolio and experience to the process— experience that includes existing work on iPhone 5G chips — would probably only speed up that process and enable Apple to operate for its modems at some stage in the future independently of a third party.

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