It wasn't necessarily a shocking revelation yesterday when Apple announced that they bought the majority of Intel's $ 1 billion modem business. After all, there was no shortage of rumors indicating that Apple has long been interested in developing its own modem technology as part of a wider effort to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm. Apple's eagerness to own so much of the underlying technology in the products is simply part of the company's DNA.
As a good example, Steve Jobs said back in 2004: I always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do. "
Like the impressive work Apple did with his series of Ax chips, Apple's proprietary 5G modem is the best in class. However, developing such a mobile chip takes a lot of time, and it remains unclear exactly when we may see Apple custom 5G modems see the light of day.
Initial reports indicated that we can expect to see Apple come up with some of the 2025, a timeline that makes sense to Apple's recent bleak deal with Qualcomm which includes a 6-year license agreement.
This despite, a report by Reuters citing someone familiar with Apple's plans, claims that Apple hopes to speed up chip development and may have something clear already in 2021
A person who acquainted with the case said Apple is planning to use Qualcomm's modem technology for a 5G iPhone by 2020, but wants to have an internally developed 5G modem technology ready for use in some of its products by 2021. Intel has previously announced plans to have a 5G modem ready by 2020, so tapping Intel assets can help Apple reach its goal.
This should not be taken to mean that Apple is planning to out and about eliminate Qualcomm from its iPhone lineup. On the contrary, the report notes that the rollout of an Apple-designed 5G modem is likely to happen in stages "as Apple builds up its ability to ensure that the modems work on all networks and countries where Apple sells phones."
For that purpose, it may be that Apple can use its own 5G modem designs on lower or older models while Qualcomm's chips are used in their advanced models to ensure quality and volume.
Apple will undoubtedly release itself from Qualcomm's aggressive tax rates, but it will probably be years before it becomes a possible alternative.