14 October 2019
Apple has made it official that it’s acquiring ‘majority’ of Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion. The announcement made by Apple also mentions that Intel will retain the ability to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, such as PCs, IoT devices and autonomous vehicles. So, Intel will no longer be in the smartphone modem business as it also made official in April this year.
Intel’s CEO Bob Swan says,
This agreement enables us to focus on developing technology for the 5G network while retaining critical intellectual property and modem technology that our team has created…. We’re looking forward to putting our full effort into 5G where it most closely aligns with the needs of our global customer base, including network operators, telecommunications equipment manufacturers and cloud service providers.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019. With this deal, around 2200 Intel employees are also joining Apple as the agreement focuses on developing technology for the 5G network.
This is the biggest investment made by Apple ever and with the acquisition, the company looks for more opportunities to start in-house. Apple will have greater control over its hardware once the transition is complete.
According to Apple’s announcement, the company will hold over 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from protocols for cellular standard to modem architecture and modem operation.
We are unlikely to see a 5G iPhone based on Intel’s technology in the coming years as the complete transaction is happening later this year only. But it’s good to note that Apple has taken a serious step towards more in-house development. As several reports have been conveying, the first 5G iPhones will use Qualcomm modems only, so Apple has an ample amount of time to organize everything after this acquisition and start working on its requirements with better control.
Here’s a cheer to the first official reveal by Apple itself that it’s finally entering the 5G business. Well, the Cupertino-based company would eventually be preparing itself for 5G but it’s good to note the actions by the company itself before this possibility.
Note that Apple already designs its CPUs and GPUs on its mobile devices and soon, in-house developed 5G modems will bring more power to the company and less dependency on others like Qualcomm. There are also rumors stating that Apple is seeking to drop Intel’s desktop processors in favor of its own within a few years. So, Apple is making its position strong for the coming future.