Qualcomm's president says Apple iPhone modem saga will end soon -- but that seems unlikely...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 7
Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon believes that the legal battle with Apple over the iPhone modem could end in 2019, but if history -- and Apple's remarks -- are any indication, that's a long-shot.

Qualcomm building sign


Apple and Qualcomm's royalty payments fight is heading to the San Diego federal court on April 15, seemingly bringing to a close a disagreement between the tech titans that has taken place over the last two years. In the view of Cristiano Amon, the end is apparently in sight.

"We feel like we are probably near the end of this game - we have a lot of legal milestones approaching," Amon advised to Yahoo Finance. "We see 2019 as having events that will drive resolution one way or another."

Amon's comments are similar to those made by CEO Steve Mollenkopf on November 28, where he suggested the two are "on the doorstep of finding a resolution." Claiming the two communicate as companies, Mollenkopf further suggested Qualcomm would "love to work with Apple" on future products, including a 5G-equipped iPhone.

Apple responded to Mollenkopf's comments in court, with Apple attorney William Isaacson taking a moment during a recent hearing to stress no negotiations were happening "at any level," there hadn't been talks "in months," and that reports the firms were close to a settlement are "not true."

In early November, a source believed to be within Apple or a hired legal team advised to one report "There is absolutely no meaningful discussion taking place between us and Qualcomm, and there is no settlement in sight. We are gearing up for trial."

As for Amon's suggestion the legal action is "probably near the end," it is highly likely that whatever the result of April's trial, the two companies will continue to argue over the result for a considerable amount of time, appealing to have the potentially high judgements against them overturned. For comparison, Apple's first blockbuster trial with Samsung took over five years from filing to completion and the stakes are no smaller in the Apple versus Qualcomm matter.

To wit, Qualcomm will probably dispute being demanded to pay the $1 billion in royalties that Apple believes were withheld, and would fight any court-ordered reduction in royalties that Apple would need to pay for its components and technology usage.

Qualcomm's complaints against Apple include the iPhone producer attempting to pay less than the fair market value for standard-essential payments, wrongly inducing regulatory action in a number of jurisdictions, breach of contract, and more recently accusations of stolen trade secrets being provided to chip competitor Intel.

Ultimately, neither company wants to lose this battle.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,443member
    The trouble is that they haven’t had much luck anywhere else with similar cases. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    ksecksec Posts: 1,513member
    It is sad that even if they do settle in 2019, it is highly unlikely Qualcomm will be in iPhone until 2021.I think ultimately Apple *may* be doesn't want any chip from Qualcomm, but simply want to sign an agreement for patents where both company don't sue each other, and Apple Pay a flat price for all SEP.

    Apple will then make their own Wireless Chip, which combines 802.11ax , 802.11ay, 4G, 5G and Bluetooth.  
    tmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    TomETomE Posts: 129member
    QCOM President is right - It will be settled soon and they wll be out of Apple's Hair (or chip business) for good.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 14
    ksec said:
    Apple will then make their own Wireless Chip, which combines 802.11ax , 802.11ay, 4G, 5G and Bluetooth.  
    and if they do, they will walk right into a whole host of Patent lawsuits launched by the trolls.
    Not the Nokia and the other major players but those outside that group. All the current modem makers are probably in a mutual don't sue each other situation but if apple (or anyone) who is not part of that cartel tries to usurp their dominance, then the lawyers will be out on force. There are literally tens of thousands of patents in this area. For most companies, it is not worth the trouble to sue each other but with an interloper?
    All bets are off and if that interloper is Apple then they will want loadsamoney.
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 5 of 14
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,244member
    ksec said:
    Apple will then make their own Wireless Chip, which combines 802.11ax , 802.11ay, 4G, 5G and Bluetooth.  
    and if they do, they will walk right into a whole host of Patent lawsuits launched by the trolls.
    Not the Nokia and the other major players but those outside that group. All the current modem makers are probably in a mutual don't sue each other situation but if apple (or anyone) who is not part of that cartel tries to usurp their dominance, then the lawyers will be out on force. There are literally tens of thousands of patents in this area. For most companies, it is not worth the trouble to sue each other but with an interloper?
    All bets are off and if that interloper is Apple then they will want loadsamoney.
    So it shall be, same as it ever was.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    bellsbells Posts: 88member
    Rayz2016 said:
    The trouble is that they haven’t had much luck anywhere else with similar cases. 
    All that the CEO and Chairman mean is this year if Qualcomm loses in court or vise versa the motivation to settle will be higher. Apple can hold on for longer though.

    Apple will never go back to strict Qualcomm chips though because having Intel as a viable alternative helps Apple keep prices lower. 5g will level the playing field more as well.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    For a moment I thought they mean "building a better CPU".  And it's not.

    I accidentally saw the word "modem" as "modern"...
    edited December 7
  • Reply 8 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,209member
    ksec said:
    Apple will then make their own Wireless Chip, which combines 802.11ax , 802.11ay, 4G, 5G and Bluetooth.  
    and if they do, they will walk right into a whole host of Patent lawsuits launched by the trolls.
    Not the Nokia and the other major players but those outside that group. All the current modem makers are probably in a mutual don't sue each other situation but if apple (or anyone) who is not part of that cartel tries to usurp their dominance, then the lawyers will be out on force. There are literally tens of thousands of patents in this area. For most companies, it is not worth the trouble to sue each other but with an interloper?
    All bets are off and if that interloper is Apple then they will want loadsamoney.
    Well, the concept there is essential patents. Companies are REQUIRED to license those patents, under FRAND rules to any organization that wants to license them. They have no choice, particularly if court ordered to do so.

    the issue is that Qualcomm hasn’t been doing this, because of their monopoly, and so they’re in trouble in a number of jurisdictions. If Apple wanted to make modems, and applied to these companies, or to organizations assigned to be the industry patent holders for these essential patents, they would have to respond positively, and license them. Often, these patents are in bundles along with other essential patents for a particular use, because all of them will be needed, so that bundle, or several, are licensed.

    its estimated that the average smartphone has about 250,000 patents assigned to it. There’s no way that phone manufacturers could afford to make phones if these licenses weren’t licensed as FRAND.
    edited December 7 watto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 9 of 14
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,296member
    Yeah, it’ll end with QC having the hammer dropped on them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Apple has already pointed out the LEGAL solution to this problem. Qualcomm doesn't care and is taking their carelessness to court. Waste, waste, waste all for the sake of illegal greed on Qualcomm's part. :-P

    Lawyers love it. Thanks Qualcomm!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 779member
    Perhaps Apple is already working on an in house solution, but I would be surprised. Modems are a bit different than processors, both from the design standpoint and in regards to patents as mentioned above. To be financially viable, Apple would need the R&D and production costs (and any legal costs) to be less than what they can get from Intel or QC. And be able to make a chip with comparable performance as Intel/QC. 

    The only way I can see QC’s statement being true is if they are getting ready to settle on terms that are very favorable to Apple or they have some ‘bombshell’ evidence that will swing the courts irreversibly in their favor. Given the proceedings so far and the amount of money involved, I can’t see either case being true. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,209member
    MplsP said:
    Perhaps Apple is already working on an in house solution, but I would be surprised. Modems are a bit different than processors, both from the design standpoint and in regards to patents as mentioned above. To be financially viable, Apple would need the R&D and production costs (and any legal costs) to be less than what they can get from Intel or QC. And be able to make a chip with comparable performance as Intel/QC. 

    The only way I can see QC’s statement being true is if they are getting ready to settle on terms that are very favorable to Apple or they have some ‘bombshell’ evidence that will swing the courts irreversibly in their favor. Given the proceedings so far and the amount of money involved, I can’t see either case being true. 
    Hard to say. That argument was used when rumors began about Apple working on their own SoC. Apple buys over 250 million modems a year. If a modem costs $15, that’s $3.75 billion a year. That’s a lot of money. I can certainly see Apple looking at that number and thinking they could shave a billion off it. It could be a lot more. Qualcomm has modems on the SoC, though with 5G, only the 3G/4G modem will be on chip in the beginning. Apple has wanted to do that for some time, because it lowers the cost and saves room and power. But Qualcomm won’t allow it.

    we don’t know what Apple and Intel are up to. But if Intel won’t allow it either, Apple could go that route if they felt strongly enough about it. They’ve hired more than a few modem engineers over the past few years, and can hire as many as they need. They can license any patents they need to. Qualcomm has been ordered by the court to license their essential patents under FRAND to any company that wants them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 14
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 779member
    melgross said:
    MplsP said:
    Perhaps Apple is already working on an in house solution, but I would be surprised. Modems are a bit different than processors, both from the design standpoint and in regards to patents as mentioned above. To be financially viable, Apple would need the R&D and production costs (and any legal costs) to be less than what they can get from Intel or QC. And be able to make a chip with comparable performance as Intel/QC. 

    The only way I can see QC’s statement being true is if they are getting ready to settle on terms that are very favorable to Apple or they have some ‘bombshell’ evidence that will swing the courts irreversibly in their favor. Given the proceedings so far and the amount of money involved, I can’t see either case being true. 
    Hard to say. That argument was used when rumors began about Apple working on their own SoC. Apple buys over 250 million modems a year. If a modem costs $15, that’s $3.75 billion a year. That’s a lot of money. I can certainly see Apple looking at that number and thinking they could shave a billion off it. It could be a lot more. Qualcomm has modems on the SoC, though with 5G, only the 3G/4G modem will be on chip in the beginning. Apple has wanted to do that for some time, because it lowers the cost and saves room and power. But Qualcomm won’t allow it.

    we don’t know what Apple and Intel are up to. But if Intel won’t allow it either, Apple could go that route if they felt strongly enough about it. They’ve hired more than a few modem engineers over the past few years, and can hire as many as they need. They can license any patents they need to. Qualcomm has been ordered by the court to license their essential patents under FRAND to any company that wants them.
    Yeah, who knows? It would be cool if they did. People are already knocking Apple for ‘inferior’ modem performance with the intel modems. I’d worry that the criticisms would be notched up if they designed their own modem and it wasn’t on par with others.

    Of course, unless the performance was drastically different the main people who would notice would be the diehard fans on sites like this. The vast majority of people don’t even know what a cellular modem is, much less the specs of the various models. All they care about is Spotify, Netflix and face time. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,209member
    MplsP said:
    melgross said:
    MplsP said:
    Perhaps Apple is already working on an in house solution, but I would be surprised. Modems are a bit different than processors, both from the design standpoint and in regards to patents as mentioned above. To be financially viable, Apple would need the R&D and production costs (and any legal costs) to be less than what they can get from Intel or QC. And be able to make a chip with comparable performance as Intel/QC. 

    The only way I can see QC’s statement being true is if they are getting ready to settle on terms that are very favorable to Apple or they have some ‘bombshell’ evidence that will swing the courts irreversibly in their favor. Given the proceedings so far and the amount of money involved, I can’t see either case being true. 
    Hard to say. That argument was used when rumors began about Apple working on their own SoC. Apple buys over 250 million modems a year. If a modem costs $15, that’s $3.75 billion a year. That’s a lot of money. I can certainly see Apple looking at that number and thinking they could shave a billion off it. It could be a lot more. Qualcomm has modems on the SoC, though with 5G, only the 3G/4G modem will be on chip in the beginning. Apple has wanted to do that for some time, because it lowers the cost and saves room and power. But Qualcomm won’t allow it.

    we don’t know what Apple and Intel are up to. But if Intel won’t allow it either, Apple could go that route if they felt strongly enough about it. They’ve hired more than a few modem engineers over the past few years, and can hire as many as they need. They can license any patents they need to. Qualcomm has been ordered by the court to license their essential patents under FRAND to any company that wants them.
    Yeah, who knows? It would be cool if they did. People are already knocking Apple for ‘inferior’ modem performance with the intel modems. I’d worry that the criticisms would be notched up if they designed their own modem and it wasn’t on par with others.

    Of course, unless the performance was drastically different the main people who would notice would be the diehard fans on sites like this. The vast majority of people don’t even know what a cellular modem is, much less the specs of the various models. All they care about is Spotify, Netflix and face time. 
    It’s not as though they would have to rush this. With the SoC, they were not only having Samsung manufacturer it, the first few years, but were using a Samsung design. They wanted to do things that needed a lot more power, and a lot more efficiency. The only way to do that was to have their own designs.

    i think that with modems, it’s different. There are standards that have to be met that Apple would need to meet. I don’t know what they could do so differently that they would do it for that reason. It would likely just be for power and room saving on the technical front, and cost savings. If they wanted to be innovative with this, they really should have started when 3G was still the thing. Modems were much simpler, and it would have been easier, and cheaper to get started. Now, it could be a nightmare. Intel has thousands of engineers working on this already.
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