Intel Reportedly Trying to Supply Apple with Baseband Chips for Next-Gen iPhones
Although the Intel-owned Infineon hasn’t supplied baseband processors to Apple in years, the chipmaker is said to be looking to get back into the supply chain for future iPhone models in an effort to dethrone Apple’s current partner, Qualcomm. As of right now, Qualcomm supplies the wireless LTE chips found in Apple’s product lineup including the flagship iPhone 5S. The partnership isn’t expected to change with this year’s iPhone models but analyst Timothy Acuri of Cowen and Company has heard that talks are heating up between Intel and Apple for the 2015 iPhone.
In a recent note to investors, Acuri said that Apple has apparently “re-embraced” Intel and the two parties are having talks about components for next-generation iPhone models. According to Acuri, Apple’s talks may simply be a way for the company to get better prices from current supplier Qualcomm. Although the talks have apparently been ongoing, Acuri believes that Apple is unlikely to ultimately choose Intel though it was mentioned that the discussion do add an air of “credibility” to Intel’s LTE baseband efforts.
The analyst made no mention of an April rumor out of the Far East that suggested Apple could bring its baseband chip design in-house. One of the areas where Acuri believes Apple could make a switch is the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip found in the iPhone, which is currently supplied by Broadcom. Acuri recently said that he’s seen evidence that Qualcomm has made “significant strides in his roadmap,” which he believes could put it in a position to displace Broadcom in the next two years.
As far as Intel goes, it purchased Infineon for $1.4 billion in 2010, which temporarily made the company a chipmaker for Apple’s iPhone. Apple famously builds its own custom ARM-based central processors for the iPhone and iPad after eschewing Intel in designing the first iPhone. The last Apple handset to feature an Intel Infineon baseband chip was the GSM iPhone 4 which launched in June of 2010. The CDMA iPhone 4 which debuted in early 2011 used a Qualcomm baseband chip and Qualcomm completely replaced Infineon starting with Apple’s iPhone 4S in October of 2011.
Source: Cowen and Company