Apple looking to snap up a piece of Intel’s smartphone modem business


Intel has plenty of modem-making expertise.
Photo: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Intel is reportedly looking to sell its struggling smartphone modem business in several pieces — and Apple could be one of the buyers.

According to a new report, Apple has designs on acquiring Intel’s German modem business. This is one of the most sought-after pieces, and would give Apple a big boost in potentially developing its own 5G modems.

A report by The Information notes that:

“While Intel’s modem group is spread across the world, its foundation is in Germany, where the chip maker Infineon, whose modem operations Intel bought in 2011 for $1.4 billion, is based. Any deal with Intel for the business would likely send hundreds of modem engineers to Apple.”

This group provided baseband chips for the iPhones from 2007 through 2010. However, there’s still scope for plans to fall through.

An Intel spokesperson said that: “We have hired outside advisers to help us assess strategic options for our wireless 5G phone business … We have received significant interest in the business but have nothing more to say at this time.”

Apple’s modem efforts

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Apple is interested in buying Intel’s smartphone modem business. Before Apple reached an agreement with Qualcomm, following their lengthy feud, a WSJ report claimed that Apple might pursue Intel’s modem business.

The company has also hired multiple Intel execs, including Stefan Wolff, who formerly managed Intel’s German team. It also hired Intel’s leading 5G engineer, Umashankar Thyagarajan, in February.

After Apple and Qualcomm made up, Intel announced that it was getting out of the 5G smartphone modem game. The reason it gave was concerns over profitability. The chip Intel had been working on was called the XMM 8160 5G modem.

The Qualcomm deal will extend for the next several years. However, Apple has also shown interest in building its own in-house iPhone modems. Those efforts could be bolstered by an acqui-hire from Intel.

Source: The Information