Apple In ‘Advanced Talks’ To Acquire Intel Modem Business

Apple is reportedly in ‘advanced talks’ to acquire the smartphone-modem business belonging to chip giant Intel.

If true, this could mean that Apple’s re-established relationship with Qualcomm may not last as long as first thought.

And it should be remembered that this is not the first time that this acquisition has been mooted. Last month the Information reported that Apple was talking with Intel about the purchase of its German modem business.

Intel modem

Speculation has surrounded the division ever since Intel announced in April “its intention to exit the 5G smartphone modem business” altogether.

Intel’s decision to exit the sector came after Apple and Qualcomm announced this year they had reached a settlement and would cease all legal action between the two.

That settlement saw Apple agreeing to make an undisclosed payment to Qualcomm, and to use Qualcomm’s modem chips going forward.

Intel’s modem business is located around the world, but its foundation is in Germany, where the chip maker Infineon, whose modem operations Intel bought in 2011 for $1.4 billion, is based.

And now the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, has reported that Apple is in ‘advanced talks’ to buy Intel’s smartphone-modem chip business.

The deal is said to be valued at $1 billion or more, could be reached in the next week, the WSJ stated.

Intel modems

Apple had been using Intel chips until recently, after it dropped Qualcomm modems during its bust up with the firm.

But it seems that Apple was never really happy with Intel. Last July for example it was reported that Apple was considering moving away from using Intel’s 5G modems in future iPhone handsets.

And in April this year it was reported that Apple was losing confidence in Intel’s ability to hit its deadline for the 5G modems.

Intel had said last November that it only expected to ship the 8160 5G modem in the second half of 2019, but Apple needed it by July this year in order to meet future handset release dates.

Apple has also reportedly bolstered its in-house engineering team to between 1,000 and 2,000 engineers to work on its own 5G modem chip.

On top of that, Apple has reportedly hired a number of Intel executives. For example, Stefan Wolff, who previously managed the chipmaker’s German modem team, joined Apple from Intel earlier this year.

Apple also reportedly poached Umashankar Thyagarajan, the head of Intel’s now-defunct modem biz, back in February.

Intel’s decision to exit the smartphone business came when Apple and Qualcomm kissed and made up, and settled their legal differences.

And Apple it should be remembered is not afraid to acquire companies for the technologies they develop. Last October for example, Apple acquired parts of the business of UK-based Dialog Semiconductor.

Apple paid $600m (£454m) for a combination of patents, engineers, and facilities in multiple countries, as it seeks to control the Dialog power management integrated circuits (PMICs) found in all nearly iPhones.

Quiz: What do you know about Apple?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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