In a move that has been rumored for several months, Apple acquired Intel's Modem business for a reported $ 1
I suppose the obvious question is, why now? We may not know the exact answer for a long time, but it certainly looks like Apple used this move as the other in the plan to set up its short-term and long-term future for modems and 5G. They patched things with Qualcomm this spring, and insured the chips for this year's iPhones and probably 5G next year. While still having to do business with their frenies for the time being, they have at least assured the security of their supply chain at the moment.
Apple has now set up for a faster transition to its own 5G future. By using intellectual property and patents just acquired from Intel, they should be able to move on with their own modems faster than experts originally believed. They also got 2200 new employees in the coup, too, which certainly didn't hurt. Several of them will be experienced chip designers. At the end of the day, this move can shave a year or two off the 5G modem development cycle, adding Apple-designed chips to an iPhone by 2021.
At the end of the day, this looks like a smart move from Apple's page. We have ample evidence of their skill in chip development and integration and optimization with their devices. Creating your own 5G chips will lead to huge gains in efficiency over time. Modem chips are one of the biggest power initiatives in smartphones, so optimization is the key. It also happens to be a specialty among Apple chip generators so far, so those who take full control of the modem should be a great positive.
As big as this is for the iPhone, it can be even bigger for Apple Watch. This device requires simultaneous optimization and miniaturization due to size limitations. Complete stack control should help Apple improve battery life and performance even when the device gets thinner and lighter over time. LTE and future 5G performance are also the key to Apple Watch becoming an independent entity, which is also crucial for Apple to increase its sales potential. It makes this Intel deal critical for the future of Apple's fastest growing hardware.