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Qualcomm and Apple’s dispute is over software not chips

21 January 2019 3

Apple and Qualcomm’s dispute was over Qualcomm's "no license, no chips" policy, as well as its failure to license standard-essential patents in a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) manner, according to the latest testimonies given in the company’s legal dispute.

Qualcomm has been facing criticism for its anti-competitive chip licensing practices and Apple's COO Jeff Williams and supply chain executive Tony Blevins have stated that the company bought chips from Qualcomm for the iPhone. The latest report has revealed that a fight over access to software broke up the business relationship between the tech giants. Qualcomm refused to give Apple computer code, which could be used to customize modem chips. Apple’s COO Williams told Qualcomm that Apple would protect the chip maker by firewalling the engineers using the code.

“In my wildest imagination of some evil intention of Apple, I have trouble coming up with a real scenario where anything of significant value could be leaked based on this code," Williams wrote in September 2017. "I just hope the licensing dispute doesn’t cloud good judgment in the team on a massive business opportunity," he added, noting that Apple planned to order about $2 billion worth of chips from Qualcomm for 2018. "I was hoping to keep some decent quantity of business flowing with hopes that the licensing stuff will get solved."

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf had in-return gave Apple a proposition via email that in return for access to this software, Apple would have to agree to install Qualcomm modem chips on 50% of the 2018-2019 iPhones. However, Apple refused the deal, and used only Intel's modem chips on its 2018 handsets and plans to use them in the upcoming handsets. The emails have not been a part of the FTC investigation; however, they reveal that software not chips were the real reason behind the quarrel between Apple and Qualcomm.


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