This piece of news may not sit well with Qualcomm (or for that matter, Qualcomm fans). As reported by Bloomberg, selected editions of Apple’s next flagship devices will be fitted with an Intel wireless chip, as opposed to one built by Qualcomm. According to Bloomberg’s sources, iPhone devices for the Chinese mobile market will likely retain their Qualcomm processors, as well as those models for Verizon Wireless. However, iPhone devices for another major US wireless carrier, AT&T, will use an Intel processor.
Apple actually builds its own processors to power its immensely popular smartphone devices, but the tech giant depends on other manufacturers such as Qualcomm in order to produce the modems that connect iPhones to the networks of mobile service providers. In order to minimize risk, many phone makers choose to source certain parts from a range of suppliers. This way, if one supplying manufacturer has problems with production, not all devices to be produced will be compromised. A prime example is Samsung, which makes use of Qualcomm processors in most of its Galaxy flagship devices, but also releases handsets with their own chips not made by Qualcomm. But when you do have multiple manufacturers building components of your devices, you can not always avoid inconsistencies in processing performance. As for the next iPhone, nobody knows yet how choosing different parts suppliers for the device will affect its quality.
Rumors of Apple tapping Intel’s expertise have been circulating for quite some time now. Back in April earlier this year, Steve Mollenkopf, the chief executive officer of Qualcomm, had hinted heavily that one of its major clients will be looking to get a second manufacturer for some of its processors. Several industry watchers at that time believed that Mollenkopf was actually referring to Apple. On a truly interesting note, when Apple introduced its first ever iPhone offering, the device actually featured a chip produced by Infineon, which Intel acquired in 2010. Since that time though, Apple has been using Qualcomm processors.
Having Apple as a major customer would be a big win for Intel. It is no secret that Intel has seen better days relatively recently. But serving as a chip supplier to some of the world’s most popular mobile devices will likely give Intel a needed boost. And even if produces chips only for AT&T’s iPhone users, it would still be an incredible opportunity -- AT&T is estimated to sell about 22 million iPhone devices in 2016 and 23 million next year.
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