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Intel may overthrow Q'Com's reign in iPhone

Posted: 14 Aug 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel? iPhone? Qualcomm? Apple? modem?

The industry is met with a speculation about a design win for Intel Corp. in the next-generation Apple iPhone. A Northland Capital Markets' financial analyst, said, "We believe that Intel has won part of the modem business in Apple's next generation iPhones due to launch in September." The company estimated the design win to represent about $1 billion in revenue for Intel in calendar year 2016.

Gus Richard, a Northland analyst, wrote: "We now believe that Intel will capture roughly 50 per cent of Apple's modem business in the upcoming iPhones due to launch September 9th."

He added, "This is a marquee win for Intel and would go a long way to reducing [its] mobile business losses."

If true, this is a real breakthrough for Intel, which has struggled for more than 15 years to break into the mobile phone market.

Neither Apple nor Intel is confirming the story. More important, not everyone in the electronics industry agrees with Northland Capital Market's assessment.

Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research, is dubious. He said, "Qualcomm has the best modem technology in the market and the iPhone 6S is a premium phone. I can't see Apple settling for second best technology."

Krewell added, "The only role I can see for Intel's modem would be a second tier phone like an iPhone 5C replacement, which could be reasonable volume, but at a much lower average selling price."

The original Intel/Apple rumour surfaced earlier this year. Last March, VentureBeat reported that Intel's 7360 LTE modem will occupy a socket on the latest iPhone's circuit board, which was long reserved for Qualcomm chips.

Neither Northland Capital Market nor VentureBeat made clear exactly which iPhone models they were referring to.

On August 12, eWeek reported Apple is preparing to unveil its latest flagship, the iPhone 6S smartphone on Sept. 9, and Apple may also announce a new iPhone 6c, a new basic model.

Chances of Intel's modem chip getting designed into the next iPhone appear to change significantly, depending on the model.

Rumour Mill

VentureBeat's original story, posted in March, cited two unnamed sources and said:

Intel has been gunning hard during the past year for a place in the iPhone and now appears to have succeeded, at least partly. The 7360 chip will ship inside a special version of the iPhone that will be marketed to emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, the sources said.

Note that the story made reference to a special version for the emerging markets, although it didn't say 6c.

It turns out this wasn't the last word on a series of Intel/Apple design win stories.

Just about a month ago, a website called 9to5mac.com debunked VentureBeat's original story, by publishing leaked images of a prototype iPhone 6S logic board. Those images showed that the new device will include Qualcomm's MDM9635M chip, also known as the "9X35" Gobi modem platform. 9to5mac wrote: "This new chip promises significant performance improvements over the "9X25" chip found inside of the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, capable of delivering up to twice the theoretical LTE download speeds..."

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