Apple already makes its own processors for the iPhone, but it looks like the company could be nearing a deal that would help it make its own modems in-house too. According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple is within a week of agreeing to buy Intel’s modem business.
The deal is said to be in advanced talks, and the report notes that it would be valued at $1 billion or more. While Apple often makes smaller deals without any sort of announcement, it’s likely Apple and Intel will make some kind of announcement if the deal does happen.
The deal isn’t necessarily all that surprising. Apple has been known to want to do as much of the designing and manufacturing in-house as possible — an ethos that led it to start building its own processors, which are now largely considered to be the best mobile chips in the world. Apple has also started building its own security chips for Mac computers, with the current-generation called the Apple T2 Security Chip. Eventually, Apple likely hopes to use only Apple-built tech in both the iPhone and Mac range of products.
Apple has had a bit of a rough road to getting 5G modems for the iPhone. The company had a long and difficult court battle with Qualcomm over license fees and patents, leading it to make a deal with Intel for modems. Intel, however, reportedly had a tough time developing its own mobile 5G modems — and as a result Apple and Qualcomm eventually patched things up and agreed to a six-year license agreement for modems. It’s unclear whether Apple is required to use Qualcomm modems as part of that agreement but as a result of the deal, Intel announced that it would be exiting the 5G modem business.
According to some reports, after the Apple-Qualcomm deal, Intel began looking for a buyer for its vast portfolio of modem-related patents and staff, and Apple as a buyer makes a lot of sense. Apple was reportedly already working on building its own modems, and will presumably phase out Qualcomm modems in favor of its own once it has developed the modems enough to be ready for the mainstream.
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