Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Apple re-signs with Qualcomm for three more years

Ian King and Mark Gurman of Bloomberg report that Apple is extending its deal with Qualcomm for cellular chips for three more years:

Though the new contract extends until 2026, Apple could still start using its own modem before then. The company has been planning to gradually roll out the component.

In fact, Qualcomm is only projecting that it will have a 20% share of the business when the 2026 iPhone launches. Still, the company used similar wording with the original agreement, suggesting that it could be a conservative forecast.

Apple’s been working to replace Qualcomm’s modems in its devices since 2018, and purchased Intel’s chip division to aid in the effort in 2019. Originally Apple expected to phase out Qualcomm’s modems in favor of ones designed at Apple by, well, now or early next year. But now that window has been moved outward.

Anything could happen, but Qualcomm’s disclosure that 2026 iPhones would only be fractionally covered by Qualcomm suggests that Apple’s expecting to ship some devices with its own chips before the term ends. I would expect it to be a careful ramp up, perhaps over multiple years, since the iPhone’s cellular connection is one that Apple can’t afford to screw up. I’d expect we’ll see Apple cellular modems in iPads and perhaps the iPhone SE (and dare I suggest MacBooks?) before they appear in mainline iPhones.

In the meantime, Qualcomm gets several more years of high profile business, as well as a bit of a glow from being the leader in a high-tech sphere that even Apple hasn’t managed to crack—at least, not yet.

—Linked by Jason Snell

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