Intel confirms modem chip business sale to Apple

Ruben Fields
December 5, 2019

As for Qualcomm, it has taken a load of seemingly random tech media types off to Hawaii under the pretence of work; the INQUIRER's invite must have got lost in the post, either that or Qualcomm is scared that we actually understand enough about chips to poke fun at it if it does a whoopsie.

In a series of amicus briefs filed last week, trade groups representing leading United States carmakers and tech companies, as well as Intel, accused Qualcomm of having an anticompetitive stranglehold on the modem chip market.

Intel today announced that it's officially completed the $1 billion sale of the majority of its smartphone modem business, through which it supplied manufacturers with the chips their mobile devices need to access wireless data networks, to Apple. "But when all was said and done, Intel could not overcome the artificial and insurmountable barriers to fair competition created by Qualcomm's scheme and was forced to exit the market this year", Intel said.

The anti-competition spat between the FTC and Qualcomm has been going on for years now, though it did seem to come to a head over the summer.

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In a recent court filing, Intel revealed that it sold its smartphone modem chip business to Apple at a "multi-billion dollar loss" as it was allegedly forced out of the market by Qualcomm. Qualcomm was ordered to renegotiate all of its licenses as a result but had managed to win a temporary stay while it appealed the judgement in a higher court.

Intel fought for almost a decade to build a profitable modem chip business.

Trade groups representing the U.S. units of BMW (BMWG.DE), Ford Motor Co (F.N), General Motors Co (GM.N) and Toyota Motor Co (7203.T), among others, made various claims about adverse effects of Qualcomm's licensing practices in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The company's executives were testifying in regards to the claim in court as segment of the FTC's ongoing antitrust case against Qualcomm. Qualcomm will fight this ruling to the dying breath, as while a fine is certainly unattractive, the decision fundamentally undermines the business model which has brought billions to the firm.

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