A 5G Intel logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona.
Enlarge / A 5G Intel logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona.

Miquel Benitez/Getty Images

Apple is still looking into the possibility of acquiring Intel’s Germany-based modem business, The Information claimed yesterday, citing sources familiar with Apple’s plans.

Intel has reportedly considered selling off pieces of its modem business, and the heart of that business is in Germany, where Intel acquired and integrated Infineon for $1.4 billion in 2011. The engineers that ended up in that division previously worked on chips that ended up in the iPhone about a decade ago.

This is not the first we’ve heard of Apple’s interest in Intel’s business. A Wall Street Journal report in April claimed that Apple was looking into making an acquisition then. In a statement to CNET and others, Intel said that it has seen “significant interest” in its 5G modem business but did not name any specific companies or partners. The statement is further quoted in CNET and AppleInsider, saying:

We have hired outside advisors to help us assess strategic options for our wireless 5G phone business. We have created value both in our portfolio of wireless modem products and in our intellectual property.

However, Intel later left the 5G smartphone modem business, and CEO Bob Swan told The Wall Street Journal that the company did so because Apple and Qualcomm ended a longstanding legal feud and entered into a partnership related to 5G modems for phones. Apple is expected to launch a 5G iPhone in 2020 using Qualcomm chips.

Apple recently greatly expanded hiring in San Diego, where Qualcomm’s US operations are based; the company has typically expanded hiring in places where its leadership deems it feasible to poach talent from competitors. For example, Apple may have recently made plans to add thousands of new jobs in Seattle.

In February, Apple made some internal shuffles that suggested it was working on its own modems in-house, but that would take several years to come to fruition. Bringing in engineers, patents, and products from Intel could potentially make it happen just a bit faster.



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