Apple likely to build its own iPhone modems

In a note to clients — as noted by Bloomberg — Cowen analyst Matthew Ramsay says Apple is expected to release a 5G iPhone next year, but  releases a 5G version of its iPhone, but may struggle to get the necessary components to build the product.

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He says Apple is “in a difficult position” given its reliance on Intel’s modem products, and it has four “non-ideal” options to deal with the situation:

  • “Launch 18 months after 5G competition with an inferior modem from Intel likely without mmWave capabilities”;

  • “Source a 5G modem from chief competitor Samsung,” though it would likely come only with “tough commercial terms”;

  • “Settle its disputes with Qualcomm and revert back to its modems” (which, I predict, will never happen);

  • “Purchase Intel’s modem business and develop the necessary components internally,” which would be “a reasonable but expensive long-term solution.”

  • The Sellers Research Group (that’s me) thinks Apple will build its own iPhone modems. The tech giant moved its modem chip engineering effort into its in-house hardware technology group from its supply chain unit, two unnamed “people familiar with the move” told Reuters in February. This could be a sign that Apple wants to develop a key component of its smartphones after years of buying it from outside suppliers.