Apple Wanted to Use Qualcomm Chips for 2018 iPhones, But Qualcomm Wouldn't Sell Them

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    As the FTC's antitrust trial against Qualcomm continues, Apple's chief operating officer, Jeff Williams, has taken the stand to share details on the terms of Apple's contracts with Qualcomm.

    There's no live feed of the trial, but reporters including CNET's Shara Tibken and Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents are attending and sharing details on what Williams has to say.


    Most interestingly, Williams says that Apple had wanted to use both Qualcomm and Intel chips in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR despite the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, but Qualcomm ultimately would not sell it the modems because of the fight.

    "The strategy was to dual source in 2018 as well," said Williams. " "We were working toward doing that with Qualcomm, but in the end they would not support us or sell us chips."

    Williams went on to explain that after Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf refused to sell Apple the chips, Apple had to contact Intel CEO Brian Krzanich to supply LTE chips for all of the 2018 iPhones. "We would have loved to continue to have access to Qualcomm's tech," said Williams.

    Williams also detailed many of Apple's past interactions with Qualcomm. In 2011, when Apple negotiated a contract to use Qualcomm as a supplier for modems instead of Infineon because of Apple's need for CDMA-compatible chips, Qualcomm demanded a percentage of the iPhone's cost.

    The two companies ultimately negotiated a rebate that brought the total royalty fee down to $7.50 per iPhone, though Apple had wanted to pay $1.50 per phone, equivalent to 5 percent of the value of the baseband chip, which was $30. Under the terms of that deal, though, Apple had to agree to a "marketing incentives agreement" to speak out against the WiMax standard that was popular at that time.

    With the "marketing incentives agreement," rebates Apple received from Qualcomm would need to be reimbursed should Apple ship a device with a baseband chip from a Qualcomm competitor.

    When it came time to renegotiate contracts in 2013, Qualcomm wanted to increase the $7.50 fee by an additional $8-$10, which would have cost Apple upwards of a billion dollars in annual licensing costs. To lower that fee, Qualcomm wanted exclusivity, which Apple accepted because it needed Qualcomm's chips.

    Apple accepted the deal, which also prevented the company from challenging the fairness of Qualcomm's royalty rates or inducing others to challenge Qualcomm's licensing terms, which is the position Apple has been stuck in for several years.

    Apple was finally able to diversify with the launch of the iPhone 7, the first iPhone to use chips from both Qualcomm and Intel, and it challenged Qualcomm's licensing terms in January 2017 with the launch of the initial Apple v. Qualcomm lawsuit.

    Apple and many other Qualcomm partners are involved in Qualcomm's legal battle with the FTC, with the FTC suggesting that Qualcomm has been using anticompetitive tactics to remain the main supplier for baseband processors for smartphones.

    The FTC v. Qualcomm trial will be continuing through most of January, so we are likely to hear additional details about Qualcomm and Apple's business practices.

    Article Link: Apple Wanted to Use Qualcomm Chips for 2018 iPhones, But Qualcomm Wouldn't Sell Them
  2. chatin macrumors 6502a


    May 27, 2005
  3. KPandian1 macrumors 65816

    Oct 22, 2013
    If this is true - Qualcomm refusing - then it is in a lot of trouble.

    iPhone is suffering in its modem ability how? All specs are beyond available spectra.
  4. Starship67 Suspended


    Oct 28, 2017
    Qualcomm stomps their feet and leaves the party. Bye don't miss ya.
  5. I7guy macrumors P6


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    This is going to take a while to sift through. Interesting tidbit about 2018 though.
  6. rafark macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2017
    Apple don't want to pay their asking prices. Why would they expect Qualcomm to sell them even more?
  7. WoodpeckerBaby macrumors regular


    Aug 17, 2016
    Just ditch Qualcomm standard and make iPhone incompatible with Qualcomm chips in the future. That will change the supply chain manufacturing volume and gradually making manufacturing Qualcomm chips cost prohibitive. Then Qualcomm will piss their pants.
  8. kennyt72 macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2011
    Chelsea, London, England
    Why would they be in trouble? They're under no obligation to sell to anyone that's the beauty of a free market.
  9. Michael Scrip macrumors 603

    Mar 4, 2011
    I don't even know what brand of modem is in my phone.

    Can you really tell a difference?
  10. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Anecdotally, it seems based on what I’ve read that Qualcomm’s modems perform better than Intel’s modems on Verizon’s network in the U.S. It wouldn’t surprise me if Apple’s engineers recognized this and they wanted to stick with the Qualcomm modem in the Verizon/SIM-free model for at least another year.
  11. Baymowe335 macrumors 68040

    Oct 6, 2017
    Qualcomm handled this poorly and took their ball and went home when Apple was the grown up just trying to do business.

    As I said, Qualcomm burned a bridge they shouldn’t have.
  12. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Do you know what an antitrust trial is for?
  13. .Joel macrumors member

    May 10, 2005
    Only if you’re a MacHaters, sorry MacRumors member.
  14. adamjackson macrumors 68000

    Jul 9, 2008
    Very common in the industry but this is pretty troubling to someone who trusts Apple unequivocally. I trust Apple to recommend the best for me and charge appropriately not recommend something based on a supplier discount whether it be in my best interest or not. This is more damning that Apple agreed to it and the prices of iPhones still went up.
  15. Wanted797, Jan 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019

    Wanted797 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2011
    “Qualcomm wanted to up the $7.50 fee by another $8 to $10,“


    Edit: Its been pointed out this is some bad wording. MR might I suggest.

    ‘Qualcomm wanted to up the $7.50 fee by $8-$10’.
  16. Numbah One macrumors newbie

    Numbah One

    Jun 7, 2007
    If a company has a standard-essential patent, they have to grant licenses on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The FTC and other companies are arguing that Qualcomm would not do it. I expect the outcome of this trial would affect all of the other lawsuits swirling around.
  17. darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2016
    Apple is putting themselves in a very dangerous spot. Now they're down to only one modem maker that will sell to them, Intel. How much longer until Apple replaces Intel CPU's with it's own in house design? Then pi**ses off Intel? Then both Intel and Qualcomm won't sell them modems. If you burn too many bridges, pretty soon you won't be able to go anywhere.
  18. JPack macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017
    Apple stopped paying royalties in April 2017.

    Of course Qualcomm wouldn't "sell" them chips for 2018. Apple didn't pay for things in the past, why would Qualcomm give things for free?
  19. mookc1 macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2014
    Apple should just buy them or a controlling interest. Litigation done.
  20. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    The issue is that QCOM's patents have been granted as SEP (standard-essential patent). Because the patent is included in an international standard that everyone has to follow, the patent holder must license the technology at a fair and reasonable rate (FRAND).

    This was basically the same thing that Samsung tried to pull on Apple many years ago. QCOM is trying to charge users of the CDMA standard a royalty fee based on the entire cost of the device, as opposed to the cost of the component that actually uses the patent.

    Some would argue that QCOM is abusing the fact that their patent is part of a standard and they are not making the patent available at FRAND rates. Some would argue the opposite.

    I think Apple would be happy (as happy as a company would be paying a supplier Billions of dollars) if QCOM based the royalty on the cost of the chip $30 as opposed to the cost of the iPhone.
  21. Dominicanyor macrumors 65816


    Apr 1, 2012
  22. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    It’s never that simple unfortunately.
  23. darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2016

    How do you do that when they own the patents?
  24. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    It wouldn’t surprise me if the PC CPU division of Intel is completely separate from the mobile modem division. I doubt Intel would refuse to sell Apple modems for iPhones on the basis that Apple wasn’t using them for Mac CPUs any longer. Apple still used Samsung panels in iPhones despite the ongoing pissing contest with Samsung over smartphones.
  25. kennyt72 macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2011
    Chelsea, London, England
    I understand that, but they're under no obligation to sell their chips as there are other makes (Intel) of chips that are available and can be used to do the same thing as the Qualcomm chips, I assume that Intel are paying the royalty on any patent of Qualcomms they are using in their chips.

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