Apple’s homegrown modem project is a spectacular failure – so far

Insanely great, Apple’s multi-year project to build its own modem is not; other than at incinerating untold billions of dollars, that is.

Qualcomm to supply Apple with 5G modems through 2026

Aaron Tilley and Yang Jie for The Wall Street Journal:

The 2018 marching orders from Apple increase; green up pointing triangle Chief Executive Tim Cook to design and build a modem chip—a part that connects iPhones to wireless carriers—led to the hiring of thousands of engineers. The goal was to sever Apple’s grudging dependence on Qualcomm, a longtime chip supplier that dominates the modem market.

The obstacles to finishing the chip were largely of Apple’s own making, according to former company engineers and executives familiar with the project… Apple executives who didn’t have experience with wireless chips set tight timelines that weren’t realistic, former project engineers said.

Apple had planned to have its modem chip ready to use in the new iPhone models. But tests late last year found the chip was too slow and prone to overheating. Its circuit board was so big it would take up half an iPhone, making it unusable… Executives better understood the challenge after Apple tested its prototypes late last year. The results weren’t good, according to people familiar with the tests. The chips were essentially three years behind Qualcomm’s best modem chip.

Investors had counted on Apple saving money with an in-house chip to help compensate for weak demand in the larger smartphone market. Apple — which hasn’t publicly acknowledged its modem project, much less its shortcomings — is estimated to have paid more than $7.2 billion to Qualcomm last year for the chips…

MacDailyNews Take: And so the bloodsucking Qualcomm extortionists keep on extorting, but, eventually, someday, Apple will get there. The company certainly has the money and the will and, now – maybe – a clearer idea, focused by failure, of what it will take to finally achieve the goal.

See also:
• Why can’t Apple manage to make its own modems? – September 11, 2023
• Qualcomm to supply Apple with 5G modems through 2026 – September 11, 2023

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  1. Apple parked about 750 employees across from QUACOMM in San Diego years ago to get this project going… At some point Intel got into the game in Hillsboro Oregon. Their efforts were a colossal failure, and what happened next? Apple bought out that division from Intel, and surprise surprise… It’s been a colossal failure ever since.

    INTEL’s culture has no real sense of urgency, and a lot of arrogance. Apple should pull this team back into Apple Park and the boys at top demand it get done – cut the team in half and keep the people that are willing to work hard and finish this thing.

  2. So if you are supplying a company with something their business model depends on and they decide to build a better version, damn right I’m going to charge the shit out of them while I can and give companies NOT trying to compete a better deal.

    Not that I’m against Apple doing this, more power to them (see what I did there…?)
    But as they say “It’s not personal. It’s just business…”

  3. Tim Cook is so overtaken with evangelizing, he has lost sight of what he is supposed to be doing at Apple . Steve Jobs, on the other hand, would absolutely not have let that failure go on for so long. Heads would have rolled and he would have read the Riot Act to those remaining.

    1. Silicon Valley has changed dramatically since Jobs was around. People would not put up with being abused today, they’d jump ship to a higher paying job with less stress. These aren’t the 80s, before computers were a thing. Apple isn’t a company that inspires loyalty anymore (if it ever did).

  4. Off topic…

    I’m about done with MDN!

    Right now I’m on a 2019 Mac Pro. I’m running the latest, non beta version of MacOS and Safari. I don’t run any extensions to Safari or ad blockers or such.

    However, when certain pop up ads here on MDN happen the screen jumps and I’m kicked out of editing a response here in MDN, or the Safari window with MDN freezes completely requiring me to reload the page.


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