Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Qualcomm and Apple Agree to Drop All Litigation

Tripp Mickle and Asa Fitch:

Apple has called Qualcomm a monopoly and said Mr. Mollenkopf has lied about settlement talks between the companies. Qualcomm has accused Apple of deceiving regulators around the world and stealing software to help a rival chip maker.

For two years, the companies have bickered over the royalties Apple pays to Qualcomm for its patents. Discord between the CEOs, who bring different management styles and principles to the table, has deepened the divide. They have dug into their positions as the dispute has escalated.

The feud heads toward a showdown this coming week, when Apple’s patent lawsuit against Qualcomm is set to go to trial—with both CEOs expected to testify in a case where billions of dollars are at stake.

Via Shaun Maguire (and Benjamin Mayo):

The most interesting part to me is that Steve Jobs personally negotiated the QCOM deal and thought it was fair, but then one of the first things Cook did when he took over was rip it up.

Apple (MacRumors):

Qualcomm and Apple today announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm. The companies also have reached a six-year license agreement, effective as of April 1, 2019, including a two-year option to extend, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Ben Bajarin:

At the FTC trial, we discovered Apple never actually had a formal license with QCOM and they just went through their manufactures. So this is a first time license for Apple with Qualcomm.

Previously: Apple Sues Qualcomm.

Update (2019-04-22): Dan Masters:

This highlights the fact that Apple was (and has been) willing to offer a degraded experience to customers of their $1k+ phones due to their unreasonable demands (i.e. greed).

It seems clear that there was also a long-term strategic element in developing another supplier. But it’s an interesting point that Apple chose to ship a worse product, despite their platitudes about being guided purely by what’s best for the customer experience.

Ben Bajarin:

The Apple Qualcomm settlement now makes even more sense as Intel announces their exit of the 5g modem business.

Ian King and Mark Gurman (tweet):

Throughout the fight, which centered on Apple’s accusations that Qualcomm overcharges for patents on its technology, the iPhone maker played down the importance of the modem and Qualcomm’s inventions. Just before the settlement was announced on Tuesday, Apple’s lawyers were in a San Diego courtroom saying the component was just another method of connecting to the internet. In reality, Qualcomm’s modems are leading a potential revolution in mobile internet -- and Apple could have been forced to play catchup without them.

Ben Bajarin:

Apple pays less than $10 for all of Qualcomm’s stuff that was before this deal. So they already pay a low rate.

Prakash Sangam:

I can guarantee that U.S. govt will block @Huawei s bid. Also, if $AAPL was interested in buying, $INTC wouldn’t have announced existing business though. I suspect @Apple will get @Intel modem talent by attrition, and may buy #IP later for a bargain price..

John Gruber:

Intel’s 5G modem efforts were so behind schedule that it looked increasingly likely, if not certain, that Apple wouldn’t be able to use them for 5G iPhones in 2020. Forget about 2019 — I think Apple determined that even 2020 was increasingly in doubt if they sourced 5G modems from Intel.


Fast Company has reported that Apple has a “team of between 1,000 and 1,200 engineers working on the modem chips for future iPhones” — but that team’s work is obviously not going to be ready for a few years, at best.

John Gruber:

My initial guess is it’s the former: Intel decided to get out of this market, and Apple got squeezed.

Ben Bajarin:

Knowing Apple curates Apple News it is interesting there is no article on the Qualcomm settlement. There is one about Intel exiting smartphone modems and some coverage of their short lived trial but nothing on settlement.

At least in my feed in News.

Some people replied saying that they do see some articles. But this raises questions about why people see such different Apple News feeds, and whether Apple can be trusted to curate news about itself.

Charlie Demerjian (via Meek Geek):

That same 600Mbps Qualcomm modem in the iPhone ran at 1Gbps in Android devices. The Intel modem ran at 600Mbps max and there were no other customers to make a comparison to. Apple crippled their Qualcomm parts to match the delivered Intel specs. Worse yet those Intel parts were only 600Mbps on paper, in practice they had 30% lower throughput. On top of this the Intel modems consumed vastly more energy to do their slower work than Qualcomm[…]

Reed Albergotti (via Hacker News):

The sealed documents, obtained by Qualcomm through the discovery phase ahead of the trial, offer a rare window into the decision-making process of one of the most secretive and powerful companies on the planet, and how Apple’s internal discussions about Qualcomm differed from what it said publicly. Apple’s criticism of Qualcomm underpinned more than 80 lawsuits around the world and influenced governments to change laws and regulations in Apple’s favor.


The documents also raise questions about the methods Apple used to inflict pain on Qualcomm and whether Apple really believed its own arguments to lawmakers, regulators, judges and juries when it tried to change not just its long-standing business agreement with Qualcomm but the very laws and practices that have allowed inventors to profit from their work and investments. Apple has argued that Qualcomm’s patents were no more valuable than those of competitors like Ericsson and Huawei, but Qualcomm argued in court that the documents show otherwise.


In one internal document cited by Qualcomm’s lawyers, Apple said it sought to “create evidence” by scrupulously licensing other less expensive patents to make Qualcomm’s look expensive.

Update (2019-04-28): Chance Miller:

More details continue to emerge this weekend about the behind-the-scenes drama of Apple’s dealings with Intel and Qualcomm. According to a report from The Telegraph, Apple poached Intel’s lead 5G modem developer earlier this year.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

My understanding (which is to say, I could be wrong) is that the main Top News section, time-of-day digest sections, and special topical/spotlight sections for major news events are the only sections curated by humans. For the rest, Apple sends out a bundle to each device which then runs it through an on-device ML algo to determine, based on their usage of the app, what to present to the reader. (Presumably this ML model is what syncs via iCloud if you have that setting enabled.)

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