Intel is bowing out of the 5G business, the company just announced. Instead of marching forward with its plans to make 5G modems for mobile device, Intel will focus more on 4G and 5G modems for PCs and smart home devices, in addition to its broader 5G infrastructure business.
The chipmaker's announcement comes mere hours after Apple and Qualcomm announced that they were going to settle their legal war, a surprising end to their long-standing battle over alleged patent infringement in relation to Apple's use of Qualcomm-made components in the iPhone.
Intel Exits 5G
"We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the 'cloudification' of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns," Bob Swan, Intel's CEO, said. 5G remains a "strategic priority across Intel," Swan added. "We are assessing our options to realize the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world."
Apple And Qualcomm Settlement
As The Verge notes, Intel's decision likely prompted Apple and Qualcomm to settle. It's unclear, however, exactly when Intel reached this decision, and — more importantly — when it informed Apple. In any case, this means Apple is left without a 5G supplier; it has to seek other manufacturers for its 5G components going forward.
Both Apple and Qualcomm have not explained why they reached a settlement so quickly. According to Nikkei, however, Apple was apparently growing concerned about Intel's ability to supply 5G components for iPhones scheduled to come out next year. Last year, Intel became Apple's sole provider of smartphone modems as its legal war with Qualcomm continued and became more complicated at every turn, involving multiple lawsuits and accusations.
Now, as part of the two companies' settlement, Apple is now ordered to pay Qualcomm an unspecified amount to cover royalties Qualcomm accused the Cupertino brand of purposefully withholding. In addition, they have now entered a new six-year global patent licensing agreement, which in the future could be stretched to two more years.
Whether that means Apple will be using Qualcomm's 5G components to power next year's iPhone models is still uncertain, but that likely is the case, by the looks of things. Apple is reportedly working on 5G iPhones slated for 2020. The only certain thing is that Intel won't be providing the 5G modems needed for those models at all.
Meanwhile, Huawei said recently that it's willing to sell its 5G modems to Apple — and to Apple only.