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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Qualcomm expects to lose Apple’s business

Qualcomm, a company with no real interest in trying to appease Apple, told the world today that Apple will probably be shipping Apple-made cellular chips in devices at scale by 2023:

At an investor conference in New York, Qualcomm executives said they expect to supply only 20% of Apple’s modem chips by the launch of the iPhone in 2023. Qualcomm Chief Financial Officer Akash Palkhiwala expects Apple to make up a “low single-digit” percentage of the company’s chip sales by the end of fiscal 2024.

We learned back in 2019 that Apple was buying Intel’s modem business and settling its lawsuits with Qualcomm. Clearly the next step was for Apple’s silicon team to build its own cellular chips—the only question was when.

Sounds like the answer is 2023—or maybe 2022, it’s hard to say. Apple sells older iPhones for a while, so Qualcomm chips will be in Apple products for quite some time to come. Does Qualcomm’s 20% figure (dropping throughout 2024) mean they’ll still own a segment of Apple’s business, or is that just referring to older models? And what exactly does “by the launch of the iPhone in 2023” mean? Fiscal years, extrapolations, it’s all a little murky.

But nobody knows better than Qualcomm how many chip orders it’s gotten from Apple for 2023, and the answer seems to be “not many.” The era of Apple-built cellular radios is coming. If it doesn’t begin next year, it will certainly be in full swing two years from now.

—Linked by Jason Snell

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