Apple is getting serious about building its own modem. After years of reliance on Qualcomm and then Intel, Apple is finally ramping up its in-house modem chip engineering efforts by reallocating its resources into its hardware technology division under the stewardship of Johny Srouji. Previously, all this was part of Apple’s supply chain unit.
Srouji joined Apple in 2008 and has since been leading Cupertino’s chip design efforts. Srouji is notably the face behind Apple’s home-grown A-series processors that power the company’s iPhones as well as iPads, as well as the custom chip inside its truly wireless AirPods. He has been leading the company’s modem chip designing efforts since January, according to a Reuters report. Moreover, Apple also seems to be on a hiring spree for modem engineers in Qualcomm’s backyard, San Diego.
Apple might have started getting serious about building its own modem but going by its penchant for quality, it would be sometime before we start seeing something constructive from the company. Apple is known to take its time at doing things on its own terms and conditions focusing on quality rather than on quantity. It might not be the first to do things but as and when it does, it is usually expected the finished product would speak for itself. Also, this is the time of transition, from 4G to 5G, which will bring its own baggage. Not to mention, Qualcomm holds the edge when it comes to patents, and Apple will really have to go the extra mile to stand apart. Because clearly, not all is well when it comes to its relationship with Qualcomm.
There is also the monetary aspect. It will cost Apple hundreds of millions of dollars initially to build its own modem before it starts making some money out of it. For some perspective, Qualcomm charged Apple $30 for a modem plus royalties. Apple won’t be the only company building its own modems though. Samsung, its biggest rival, has been making modems for years. Huawei also makes its own modems.