Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

As Qualcomm and Apple Settle Litigation, Intel Announces It Won’t Make 5G Modems After All

Apple and Qualcomm jointly released this single paragraph announcement of their litigation settlement following the first day of arguments in its trial:

Qualcomm and Apple today announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm. The companies also have reached a six-year license agreement, effective as of April 1, 2019, including a two-year option to extend, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Shortly after, Intel announced that it would be exiting the 5G modem business. Apple’s first 5G iPhone was expected to ship next year with Intel modems, but that obviously won’t be happening now.

Sadly, this is a victory for Qualcomm’s monopolistic licensing practices for industry standards. Today’s settlement will allow Apple to use Qualcomm’s patents for their own 5G modems, rumoured to be used in iPhones shipping in 2021.

Update: Lauly Li, Cheng Ting-Fang, and Takeshi Shiraishi, Nikkei Asian Review:

Intel has been the sole modem chip supplier for iPhones since 2018, owing to Apple’s legal dispute with Qualcomm.

“Apple had been a little concerned whether a sole supplier for modems could affect the company’s plan to introduce its first 5G smartphone next year,” a person familiar with the matter said.

Two questions:

  1. Did Intel give Apple a heads-up that it would be exiting the 5G modem business, thereby prompting today’s settlement?

  2. If yes, is the time between that notification and the settlement better measured in days, hours, or minutes?