After a report indicated the news could be on its way, Apple has officially announced it’s acquiring Intel’s 5G modem division for a massive $1 billion. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of this year. Around 2,200 employees will now work for Apple, while every asset and piece of research developed in Intel’s 5G modem business will now belong to the iPhone manufacturer.
With this acquisition, it’s everyone’s assumption that Apple will be able to greatly accelerate the process of developing its own 5G modems. And that’s entirely true. Around this time in a few years, we could see the first crop of in-house 5G modems from Apple.
But there’s more to this story than just R&D. Acquiring Intel’s 5G modem business also gives Apple a leg up on Qualcomm who, to put things lightly, hasn’t exactly been kind to the Cupertino giant.
In recent history, Apple and Qualcomm have fought over patent royalties, licensing, and other legal matters that resulted in Apple exclusively using Intel modems in the most recent iPhones. Now that Apple will have the necessary tech to replace the need for Qualcomm-branded 5G modems, there’s a good chance at some point, Apple won’t need Qualcomm at all.
And not to sound one-sided, but developing its own chips is something Apple is good at. A perfect example is the A series of processors the company has included in all its iPhones. They’re some of the fastest in the industry and regularly outpace the latest and greatest from Qualcomm.
if Apple plays its cards right (and I’m sure they will), there’s reason to believe Apple will have a much stronger 5G modem than what Qualcomm will be able to produce. It’s too early to make any calls or place any bets, but given the brand’s history, things could shape up to be pretty interesting for Apple in the 5G world.
Notably, Intel won’t be exiting the entire 5G business. This just involves modems for devices like smartphones and tablets. The company says it plans to stick around in the market as it develops 5G modems for IoT devices, PCs, self-driving technologies, and more.