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Monday, February 05, 2018
Could Qualcomm be Excluded From the iPhone Supply Chain?

Qualcomm's shares got a hit on Monday after brokerages said Apple could drop the chipmaker in favor of Intel as the supplier for modem chips in its iPhones.

In a note citing channel checks with chip suppliers, brokerage Nomura Instinet said it anticipated that Apple would drop Qualcomm in favor of a handful of other suppliers, as it seeks to reduce materials costs for iPhones. Nomura said it believed Apple would source all of its modems from Intel, which is already supplying modem chips to Apple.

Analysts at KGI Securities said Intel's modem chips were less expensive than Qualcomm chips and also met Apple's standards. However, there have been previous reports that iPhones with Qualcomm chips have performed better than models running on Intel chips.

Qualcomm has been a supplier of components to Apple for years but the relationship changed last year when Apple accused Qualcomm of overcharging for chips and refusing to pay some $1 billion in promised rebates. Using Intel modems across all iPhones could provide Apple with leverage against Qualcomm during the ongoing licensing dispute between the two companies, although Qualcomm's chips could return to the iPhones in the form of concessions in the future patent lawsuit settlement.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm is also facing pressure from Broadcom Ltd, which is trying to acquire the company, and today sweetened its bid to more than $121 billion from an earlier $103 billion.

Qualcomm was hit with a $1.23 billion fine by European Union antitrust regulators last month for paying Apple to use only its chips, blocking out rivals such as Intel.

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