To reduce its dependency on Qualcomm, Broadcom, and other component manufacturers, Apple has been working on creating its chips for BlueTooth, WiFi, and 5G modems for a while. According to a recent Bloomberg article, this transition may start as early as 2024, which also mentions that Apple is working on its WiFi and Bluetooth chip. This would enable it to drop Qualcomm as well as Broadcom.
Due to significant differences in licensing, patents, and royalties around modem chips, Apple and Qualcomm were embroiled in a long and heated court spat. Although the cases were settled outside the court, Apple has clarified that its priority is building its modem technology for the next generation of iPhone and iPad models as soon as possible.
To boost these efforts, Apple completed an acquisition of Intel’s modem business in 2019. This gave the company access to engineering talent and a vast collection of standard-essential patents related to cellular technology. However, Apple will still have to license some patents from Qualcomm and Ericsson, even when it switches to in-house modems.
Technical snags and other issues around development have delayed the launch of Apple’s new internal modem from this year until late 2024 or early 2025.
Apple is working on a WiFi and Bluetooth chip that might be released as early as 2025 to replace Broadcom. It is also developing an upgraded version of this semiconductor that integrates Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular modem technology into a single chip.
Other iPhone components, such as radio-frequency processors and wireless charging elements, are also supplied by Broadcom. However, Apple “has been working on modifying those parts as well,” according to Bloomberg.
Although Apple’s ambitions to employ its modem technology have been widely publicized, this is the first time we’ve heard that it intends to use an internal Bluetooth and WiFi chip. All of this is consistent with Tim Cook’s view that Apple ought to be in charge of the critical elements of the iPhone itself.
This will be a significant endeavor even for a company like Apple, which typically relies on its partners for essential components. It will be fascinating to watch how Apple implements these modifications in such a short period, given that development of these chips takes years.