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Friday, 29 December 2017

Patent News - Apple's contract with Qualcomm expires in 2018

Apple is likely to switch to MediaTek as an extra wireless modem supplier, following a patent battle with Qualcomm. The company is already using Intel modems for most of iPhone 2018 on GSM operators, but must use Qualcomm on CDMA devices like Verizon or Sprint in the US.

The contract with Qualcomm will expire next year, and sources say Intel will supply most of the iPhone modems with its new gigabit LTE creations, but the rest is expected to fall into MediaTek hands.

Sources said that Apple replaced its 50 percent order for the Qualcomm's iPhone chipset to Intel's Intel modem chipset as part of a self-protection effort created after filing a lawsuit in January 2017 against Qualcomm's allegedly unfair patent royalty calculation formula, involving the modem chipset used on the device iPhone.
As the legal battle progresses, Apple is reportedly actively seeking new chip suppliers to absorb more of the remaining orders. And MediaTek, with technological advantages, capacities and prices, is a candidate to become Apple's modem chip supplier by 2018, according to the source.

MediaTek declined to comment on the speculation, saying that the company has been working hard to get more new orders from more potential customers.

But they note that winning modem chip orders will only give short-term benefits to MediaTek, arguing that it is difficult for the company to become a regular player in the supply chain for Apple's established product line.
Instead, MediaTek is well positioned to seek cooperation with Apple in future product lines such as smart speakers, wireless charging devices and wireless connection systems, as it leads the way in supplying chip solutions for this segment both in terms of market share and technology advances.

Intel actually has much less market share in wireless modems, compared to MediaTek, and the Chinese chipmaker also leads in gigabit LTE (Huawei's modem in Mate 10 Pro is the first with a 1.2 Gbps speed on retail phones), so Apple will have a way out when leaving Qualcomm for next year.

Apple is also rumored to be working on a pre-5G iPhone prototype, according to the same source claim, so the weak wireless modem performance of the iPhone this year when compared to competitors will be the past with the iPhone 2018.

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