Apple and Qualcomm buried the intellectual property hatchet

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Some good news related to 5G smartphones! Qualcomm and Apple jointly announced they are settling their intellectual property legal dispute after a long battle in the court. Under this settlement, the two companies signed six-year licensing agreements and Qualcomm will also be back as a key supplier of the 5G modem to future generations of iPhone.

This is big news for mobile technology innovation. The IP settlement between Apple and Qualcomm is a clear admission by Apple that Qualcomm is an unavoidable partner when it comes to 5G mobile innovation.

Qualcomm could potentially be again the sole modem supplier for iPhones. It remains to be seen if Apple will use Qualcomm’s RFFE solution or if they will use the Qualcomm 5G modem only.

Qualcomm is set to be the largest supplier of 5G mobile modems by far. The company may face a certain level of competition from captive vendors such as Huawei or Samsung, but this will be limited and confined.

Analysts have questioned the ability of Apple to bring 5G capabilities to its iPhone devices in 2020. This is because Apple has previously chosen Intel as its sole 5G modem partner and the two companies have found it difficult to align their commercial and technology objectives to differentiate a 5G iPhone from the competition. Now that Apple has switched back to Qualcomm as 5G modem partner, the pressure is on Qualcomm to demonstrate they can succeed where Intel failed – enabling Apple to bring 5G to iPhone in 2020 and differentiate effectively in what is going to be a highly competitive market.

In parallel and recent news, Intel announced they are discontinuing the development of their 5G modem for smartphone applications. Your guess might be as good as mine: The two announcements are interrelated and look very well coordinated!

Commentary from Malik Saadi, VP of strategic technologies at tech advisory ABI Research