Apple has been knocking heads with Qualcomm, the company that supplies them with the comms chips that let your iOS devices connect to all sorts of networks. But the two companies have been arguing over Qualcomm’s competitive practices and Apple has been shifting from being very Qualcomm-dependent to a more diversified set of components.
Apple is suing Qualcomms for US$1B over claims by the FTC that Qualcomm was “engaged in monopolistic practices to prevent Apple from sourcing key components from its competitors” according to a report at 9to5Mac. That argument has led to Qualcomms withholding some testing on chips Apple depends on.
Part of the FTC’s complaint says
Qualcomm precluded Apple from sourcing baseband processors from Qualcomm’s competitors from 2011 to 2016. Qualcomm recognized that any competitor that won Apple’s business would become stronger, and used exclusivity to prevent Apple from working with and improving the effectiveness of Qualcomm’s competitors
Apple has, over the last few years, increasingly shown its desire to further vertically integrate its supply chain. They make their own processors and other silicon for new phones. They partner with TSMC for their processors with COO Jeff Williams saying they have been able to make a chip that lets them deliver the power they need without creating a pocket furnace and they have balanced the power and heat dissipation issues they faced with other processors in the past.
For most iOS device owners, the impact here is probably not massive. Next year, the next generation iPhones and iPads will hit there market and the services Qualcomm’s chips provided will still be there, albeit with different companies, such as Intel, providing the required components. But don’t be surprised if Apple moves to buy the talent and intellectual property they need to design radios and antennae as they seek to further control their supply chain and remove their dependence on third-party technology.