Intel’s mobile chip business is struggling, but it was expected that Apple’s next iPhone update would give it a boost. However, more recent reports hint that the boost the chip maker will get might be bigger than previously expected.
Who will be the other manufacturer?
Apple’s next iPhone is unannounced but widely anticipated, and analysts previously believed that 25% to 30% of the modem orders would go to Intel. However, DigiTimes now says the chip maker could secure up to 50% of the modem business. The report also states that Intel will hire Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing to make the modem chips.
A report in October claimed that Apple’s engineering team visited Intel to optimize its 7360 LTE modem. Which company will manufacture and supply the remaining 50% of the modem orders is not clear for now, but expectations are that it will be Qualcomm since it has been working with Apple for the past several years.
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Last month Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf said there were some large customers that were seeking a second supplier of key chips, and this made him anticipate the loss of some sales. However, he did not name any names.
Much-needed boost for Intel
It is expected that over the following year, Apple will sell 150 million to 200 million new iPhones, thus giving a big boost to Intel, which has watched its mobile efforts be crushed because of strong competitors such as Qualcomm.
Intel’s mobile chip business yielded $7 billion in sales from 2013 to 2014; thereafter, the chip maker wrapped the unit into its larger and more profitable PC chip segment last year. In April, CEO Brian Krzanich announced a huge shake-up, followed by the news that Intel had decided to discontinue some of its low-end mobile chip line but not the modem expected to be used in the next iPhone.
How well the partnership of Apple and Intel works out will likely determine whether Apple will switch to Intel exclusively for next year’s iPhone. Apple has very high demands, and this means that its suppliers must meet incredibly strict requirements and supply enough components to meet demand. Apple’s iPhone 7 is expected to be unveiled in September. The phone will be produced in bulk by contract manufacturers Pegatron and Foxconn.
On Tuesday, Intel shares closed down 1.35%. Year to date, the stock is down more than 14%, while in the last year, it is down by over 9%. Qualcomm shares are up by 4% in 2016, while in the last year, they are down almost 27%.