Phones: A truce in the war over 5G tech
Apple and Qualcomm agreed to end “one of the longest-running and most expensive disputes in tech history” this week, said Camilla Hodgson in the Financial Times. Apple first sued Qualcomm for $1 billion in 2017, arguing that the prices to license its pioneering mobile technology—including key standards underlying modern communications—“were so high as to be anticompetitive.” The chipmaker countersued and accused Apple of “stealing its intellectual property and giving it to rival Intel.” The fight grew into a globe-spanning multilawsuit showdown. The two sides reached a six-year global patent license agreement just as a trial began in federal court.
Hours after the settlement, Intel said it was no longer making 5G modems, said Ian King and Mark Gurman in Bloomberg.com. That’s not a coincidence. Apple “needs chips that will connect the iPhone” to the next-generation wireless networks already rolling out. It decided Intel, which is stronger in personal-computer chips than in mobile, “wasn’t up to the task”—whereas Qualcomm already provides 5G technology in Samsung’s phones. “The chipmaker may lose Apple as a customer in three years,” as Apple advances toward building its own modems. But Apple needs Qualcomm now, and for the moment that gives Qualcomm a “monopoly position.” ■