After a rumour earlier in the week, Apple officially announced the $1 billion acquisition of Intel’s 5G modem business on Friday.
The smartphone component business acquisition includes thousands of wireless tech patents, 2,200 employees, and more, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019. With its existing portfolio of patents, Apple says that it will now hold 17,000 wireless tech patents ranging from cellular standards to modems. More and more, Apple is becoming a giant in the field of developing and licensing wireless communication tech.
“We’ve worked with Intel for many years and know this team shares Apple’s passion for designing technologies that deliver the world’s best experiences for our users,” Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies, said in an Apple blog post. “Apple is excited to have so many excellent engineers join our growing cellular technologies group, and know they’ll thrive in Apple’s creative and dynamic environment.”
Current iPhone models use Intel 4G modems, but a few months ago rumours began to spread that Intel was struggling to develop a 5G modem. Soon after that, Apple announced it settled disputes with Qualcomm and signed a six-year licensing deal, while Intel simultaneously announced that it was ceasing development of mobile 5G modems. There’s a pretty clear through-line that leads to today’s news.
Even after all that, we’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for Apple to build its own modems and ship them with an iPhone. Qualcomm will probably get a piece of the pie for the first while, with their modems shipping with 5G iPhone models. The first 5G iPhone is expected to be released in 2020. CGMagazine will keep you posted with any major developments.