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By: Beastian (, April 18, 2019 10:31 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
Doug S ( on April 18, 2019 9:53 pm wrote:
> David Kanter ( on April 18, 2019 6:35 pm wrote:
> > I have no doubt Apple is doing their own modem. Question is when it
> > comes out. It could take 1-2 generations to really do a good job.
> >
> > Apple took a while to design out IMG graphics, and modems are just as complex.
> I agree there's no doubt Apple WAS doing their own modem. The question is, after this deal with Qualcomm, is
> that still true? If they got a good enough deal, maybe they won't think it is worth it any longer. I think they
> still should no matter what, though if they got a good deal it wouldn't be quite as urgent a project.
> We will probably know fairly soon, depending on whether the job openings at Apple suddenly
> dry up. If they are going to continue with it, presumably they will talk to Intel about
> buying all their cellular IP. They will definitely need a big war chest of patents for
> when Qualcomm inevitably sues them when they start using their own modem!

Tim Cook is currently more interested in focusing on Apple's strength as a consumer electronics company by leaning into brand recognition and services rather than investing in the technical work that could be more efficiently done at pure tech companies like Intel or Qualcomm. He has made moves in the past to reduce internal technical complexity like fold the MacOS team into the iOS team (to the great detriment of the Mac ecosystem), but it is financially more sound as we all know where most of their profits are coming (not the Mac).

Going into 5G, Cook had some choices: use his $250B warchest to do the actual technical work of implementing standards (not to mention develop them) or hire lawyers to sue all SEP patent holders (Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Interdigital etc.) and mostly try to lower the cost of making the iPhone. I think his actual choice reflects the likely trajectory of Apple in the short term, as does the departure of key personnel from their world leading CPU design team:

Apple loses engineer who oversaw iPhone, iPad processors

The year over year gains of some 20% weren't going to last indefinitely even with a star engineer and Cook knew this. They might ultimately integrate a modem into an AX SoC, but it will not be veru soon given that a focused, pure tech company like Intel pissed away billions without much to show for it. Given the vast array of different generational and country by country requirements, it is more difficult than the likes of a CPU where the basic behavior of the instruction set can be described in a much thinner volume than a modern cellular standard or a GPU where a major compute error might go mostly unnoticed by the user.

The bigger part of Apple's deal with Qualcomm is actually their long term licensing agreement, a full capitulation by Apple to the legitimacy of open licensing of standards with discounting for phones that have lower retail cost. Contrast that to the closed x86 standard or the Apple App store which stifle competition, there is relatively vibrant competition by comparison in the modem space above those standards. Considering that a jury found 3 of Qualcomm's tens of thousands of non-essential patents were worth $1.41 per phone, Apple is getting a screaming bargain with whatever deal they struck.
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TopicPosted ByDate
Tech side of Intel's 5G exitAM2019/04/18 09:35 AM
  Tech side of Intel's 5G exitAdrian2019/04/18 10:32 AM
    Tech side of Intel's 5G exitsylt2019/04/18 01:14 PM
    Thanks for the interesting tidbits (as usual) (NT)AM2019/04/20 09:54 AM
  Link to original postDavid Kanter2019/04/18 06:35 PM
    Link to original postDoug S2019/04/18 09:53 PM
      Link to original postBeastian2019/04/18 10:31 PM
    Thanks for retrieving it (strange Google doesn't see it) (NT)AM2019/04/20 09:53 AM
      Try searching for sentence fragmentsDavid Kanter2019/04/20 10:02 AM
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