Will Apple finally buy Broadcom’s cellular business?

“Now that Broadcom has finally thrown in the towel on its cellular business after years of failing to succeed, the company is trying to shop around the division,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “The company’s management team claims that the product pipeline that was under development had significant technical merit, but that the economics of running that business just couldn’t support a $700 million-a-year operating expense run rate. That said, if Broadcom can successfully shop the business, Apple seems the most likely buyer.”

“Today, Qualcomm is the world’s leading cellular baseband development shop and holds the majority of the market. Qualcomm also happens to supply standalone cellular chips to Apple for the latter’s renowned iPhone and iPad product lines. While Qualcomm has been more or less the only choice for a leading-edge LTE baseband for several years, it would have been beneficial to Apple to have more than one supplier in the running — at the very least to keep prices under control,” Eassa writes. “However, with Broadcom bowing out of the race as a high-end baseband vendor, Apple’s only two choices appear to be Qualcomm and — if it can consistently execute to its cellular baseband roadmap — Intel.”

“With very few viable suppliers in the market, Apple will either be forced to stay a step behind the latest and greatest in terms of modem technology (taking advantage of the lower prices of more mature technology) or it suffers margin compression as it tries to adopt leading-edge features,” Eassa writes. “That said, what if Apple could take control of its own cellular destiny by picking up where Broadcom left off?”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Well, your quotes from the article make it clear that Intel should be buying the Broadcom assets, not Apple. It also seems clear that this story has been sent out by Broadcom in an effort to increase the purchase price.

  2. Just buying Broadcom’s assets really doesn’t help Apple. Everyone is going to pay Qualcomm’s prices, and if anything, Apple has the market strength to obtain lower prices due to volume and cash purchases.

    Apple would not only need to buy Broadcom’s assets, but also continue to develop them, market them to other phone builders, and develop according to industry standards world-wide. That doesn’t really sound like something Apple would be interested in doing. Let Intel or some other startup come along and take the reins.

  3. Does Apple need to buy Broadcom ? Apple have already recruited at least two highly experienced RF designers from Broadcom. It would be more like Apple to hire talented staff and design their own RF chips.

    This strategy would offer a number of advantages –
    Apple could design chips that were highly optimised for iPhones.
    Apple puts a lot of emphasis on making chips that are very frugal with battery power.
    An Apple RF chip would not be available to copycat manufacturers.
    If Apple stopped buying off the shelf RF chips and switched to it’s own designs, it would mean that there would be a market for about 200 million fewer per year, which would mean that development costs of future high-end RF chips could not be covered so easily. Future general purpose RF chips would be not so cutting edge and more expensive.

  4. “That said,” is becoming a throwaway expression that increases word count without adding value. Witness it appearing twice in the excerpted text. Now imagine the same text without the superfluous phrase.

    1. I vote for “That said, ya know, like…if Broadcom can successfully shop the business, Apple seems the most likely buyer…..know what I’m sayin’?”

  5. Its only a matter of time and frankly I’m surprised it isn’t here yet in volume. Why isn’t an LTE chip built into laptops? I’d gladly pay a data plan for my MacBookPro if I had the opportunity.

  6. I was going to suggest Apple buy Qualcomm but then I looked at their market cap and revenue.
    Why would Apple buy a radio chip company that will just get slammed by the market leader?
    That only works if they had tech that no one else has.

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