Apple is working on the next step toward manufacturing independence, beginning work on a replacement for Qualcomm’s modems.
Apple has had a troubled history with Qualcomm for years. Apple accused Qualcomm of charging unfair prices for its modems, and turned to Intel as an alternate source. Many critics believed Qualcomm had violated antitrust laws, prompting the Federal Trade Commission to file an antitrust case against the company.
While Qualcomm lost the initial case, it ultimately prevailed on appeal. In the meantime, Intel was forced to exit the modem business, citing Qualcomm’s business practices as the reason. In the meantime, Apple settled its legal battle with Qualcomm and ended up buying Intel’s failed modem business.
Last October, we covered a story that suggested Apple was using the purchased Intel modem business to develop its own line of components, with plans to begin using them as early as 2022.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has now begun working on its own modem.
“This year, we kicked off the development of our first internal cellular modem which will enable another key strategic transition,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, in a town hall meeting with Apple employees. “Long-term strategic investments like these are a critical part of enabling our products and making sure we have a rich pipeline of innovative technologies for our future.”
The move follows Apple’s decision to ditch Intel in favor of its own custom silicon, based on ARM chips. Apple, more than almost any company in the tech industry, is well-known for integrating its hardware and software. Building its own modems is another critical piece of that strategy, and will likely give Apple the ability to innovate even more.