The latest rumor regarding the Apple iPhone 7 does not relate to the features that it may include, but rather one of the internal components.
While most consumers are largely concerned by the amount of RAM in the handset or the number of megapixels in its camera, the latest rumor is important for other reasons. According to hints from Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, Apple may have decided to use a different supplier for the modem in the iPhone 7.
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Qualcomm CEO makes waves with Apple comments
Mollenkopf spoke to analysts on Wednesday, and said that he is “assuming” that a big Qualcomm customer has decided to order modems from a different company. According to Bloomberg, Mollenkopf did not mention Apple by name but the tech giant is Qualcomm’s biggest customer alongside Samsung. The Korean company is already known to use multiple suppliers, so commentators believe that Mollenkopf was referring to Apple.
However there is also a chance that Apple could use multiple modem suppliers. This would eliminate a potential production bottleneck and allow the company to produce more phones.
One potential drawback of this strategy is that the two different modems could perform differently in terms of power consumption and network connections. This would make optimization more of a challenge.
Intel could be new modem supplier for the iPhone 7
It is not clear which other company Apple could order modems from, but one candidate is Intel. In October reports surfaced that Intel was pressing Apple to include one of its modems in the iPhone. According to the report Apple engineers even went to optimize an Intel 7360 LTE modem.
There is a chance that Intel modems could be used in the iPhone 7, which is predicted to ship in September. Given that it is only a few months away it seems likely that Apple will choose a modem supplier soon, assuming it has not already done so.
In order to ship in September the company would presumably have to start production around mid-July, with components tested and ready before then.
Shares in Qualcomm tumbled as news of the suggested change broke. The assumption that Apple would be using a different supplier indicates a potential loss of business for Qualcomm.
Apple wields great influence in tech sector
Given the size and influence of Apple, any change that the company makes can have effects across the industry. Qualcomm stock was down 2.5% at $50.80 at 10 AM in New York this Thursday. Until Wednesday the stock had been up 4.2% on the year.
Mollenkopf was speaking out on the ability of the company to deliver profits at predicted levels even if it lost some orders from larger customers. His attempt to reassure investors apparently had the opposite effect.
“We think there is an element of investor expectation that they lose some business at Apple,” said Sid Parakh, a fund manager for Becker Capital Management, which owns Qualcomm stock.
A spokesman for Qualcomm declined to comment further on the matter. Apple also declined to comment.
On the existing iPhone 6s, Apple uses a Qualcomm modem combined with its own in-house processor. Other smartphone makers tend to use a combination of processor and modem bought from companies such as Qualcomm.
Mollenkopf’s comments have certainly caused some disquiet among investors, but it is not yet clear whether Apple will switch to a different modem supplier for the iPhone 7.
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