1. Apple and Qualcomm settle royalty lawsuits with new patent agreement
And just like that, the bitter feud between Apple and Qualcomm is already over. The two companies have settled their patent royalty dispute, ending all ongoing legal action (including with Apple’s manufacturing partners). Apple has agreed to pay Qualcomm an unspecified amount, while both sides have struck a six-year patent license deal as well as a “multiyear” wireless chipset supply deal.
It’s unclear what prompted the abrupt end, although a federal trial started this week. Clearly, at least one party wasn’t keen to see the battle through to its very end. Qualcomm has scored a few victories, but so has Apple — and neither side is likely eager to have some of their inner workings revealed in court. There are certainly higher stakes for Apple when defeat could lead to sales bans on currently available phones, even when they don’t use Qualcomm chipsets. Qualcomm, meanwhile, is mostly concerned about antitrust actions that could force it to accept reduced royalties.
Apple may also have technical reasons for making peace. Intel’s 5G modems weren’t expected to reach phones until 2020 at the earliest, and there had been rumors that Apple was losing confidence in its partner’s ability to deliver modems on that schedule. The company risked having to ship LTE-equipped iPhones and iPads at a time when 5G may be virtually mandatory for high-end mobile devices. The settlement avoids that nightmare entirely, and gives Apple a second source of cellular chips without having to turn to unfamiliar entities like Huawei. It could also address complaints about poorer reception on Intel-equipped iPhones compared to their Qualcomm ancestors.
2. Intel gives up on failed quest to break into the mobile market
Intel, whose products dominate the world of computing, said it’s going to wind down a multibillion-dollar, multidecade effort to grab a viable stake of the mobile phone industry.
After its one significant customer, Apple, said it will return to using Qualcomm chips, Intel announced Tuesday it will exit the 5G smartphone business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for existing chips and fifth-generation modems in personal computers.
“The company will continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but does not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020,” the Santa Clara, California-based company said in a statement.
Intel Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan, who stepped up from the chief financial officer role in January, is stopping an effort that his predecessors poured billions of dollars into over the years. With Apple as an exclusive customer, Intel has struggled to make money in modem chips, even as its position in other markets has fueled revenue and profit growth.
Swan said the new fifth-generation wireless systems will provide an opportunity for Intel to sell more chips for networking use, rather than in phones.
“In the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” Swan said in the statement.
Analysts had speculated that the ascension of a leader from a financial background to Intel’s top job would prompt a reassessment of some business units that haven’t delivered. Intel has struggled to win customers as the phone market eclipsed the personal computer industry in volume, and smartphones became more like computers. Before combining the mobile business into its PC chip division, the company reported billion-dollar losses as it paid out subsidies to try to woo phone and tablet makers.
3. A glimpse to the future – Amazon joins SpaceX, OneWeb and Facebook in the race to create space-based internet services
Amazon is officially joining the race to create a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that will provide high-speed terrestrial internet services.
The company has filed its first papers with the U.S. government for approval to launch a network of 3,236 satellites through a subsidiary called Kuiper Systems LLC, according to a report in GeekWire.
“Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” Amazon confirmed in a statement. “This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”
Named for an astronomer who’s considered “the father of modern planetary science,” Gerard Kuiper, Kuiper Systems is the latest foray into space-based internet networking by a U.S. tech giant.
As private companies look to commercialize space, high-speed internet is among the prospects that offer the highest profits in the short term, while providing necessary services to get online the remaining 3.8 billion people who don’t have access to the internet.
In February, OneWeb, another company that’s expecting to create a network of satellites to provide high-speed internet access, successfully launched its first satellites. The company has raised at least $3 billion, according to Crunchbase, from investors, including Virgin, Coca-Cola and the Bharti Group — and they’re not the only company to raise several billion dollars to develop these services.
On April 17, BSD’s President and Portfolio Manager, Kim Bolton, was once again featured on BNN Bloomberg’s Market Call Tonight.
Check out the video on our website, here.