Apple, Intel agree on smartphone modem takeover
As part of the deal, some 2200 employees will transfer from Intel to Apple, including many former employees of the modem development site in Bavaria that was once taken over by Infineon. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approval and other conditions, including a works council.
By combining the acquired patents for Intel’s mobile technologies with Apple’s existing portfolio, Apple will hold more than 17,000 patents on mobile technologies ranging from protocols for mobile standards to modem architecture and use. Intel retains the ability to develop modems for use outside smartphones such as PCs, the Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles.
“This agreement allows us to focus on developing technologies for the 5G network while retaining key intellectual property and modem technologies developed by our team,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan.
For the first generation of its iPhones, Apple had used modem chips from Infineon, but had switched to chips from competitor Qualcomm in 2011 – although it was not a happy relationship: Apple and Qualcomm had long and intense patent disputes, which were occupied the courts. Also in 2011, Intel had taken over Infineon’s mobile business and its then manager Hermann Eul. Against the background of the dispute with Qualcomm, Apple has been using modem chips from Intel since 2016 and thus the Infineon technology, which has been further developed in the meantime.
In April 2019, Apple and Qualcomm settled their disputes and signed a six-year license agreement. As a result, Intel decided to withdraw from the mobile communications business.