Qualcomm refused to let Apple use its chip technology in the latest line of iPhones during an ongoing spat between the pair over licensing fees, an executive for the latter said in court.
CNET reported Apple COO Jeff Williams testified the smartphone maker wanted to use both Qualcomm and Intel chips in its 2018 iPhones, but said the former ultimately “would not support us or sell us chips”. He added Apple has not been able to come to an agreement with Qualcomm on “new design wins” since it filed a lawsuit in January 2017 accusing the chipmaker of using anticompetitive licensing tactics.
Williams also detailed the company’s fee negotiations with Qualcomm, noting Apple repeatedly traded exclusivity for a lower chip cost in order to keep the latter’s technology in its devices.
“We needed their chip supply…We didn’t have a lot of options,” he said, CNET reported.
The comments came as part of trial proceedings related to an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which similarly alleged Qualcomm relied on “anticompetitive supply and licensing terms” to maintain a stranglehold on the market.
Qualcomm is yet to mount its full defence in court. However, Williams’ assertions came in contrast to testimony given by Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf last week.
Reuters reported the executive said the chipmaker sought an exclusivity arrangement not to shut out the competition, but instead to ensure it would recoup a $1 billion “incentive payment” made to Apple in 2011 to help cover technical transition costs incurred in switching chip suppliers from Infineon.
Williams’ statements were also contradicted by comments made by Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon during an earnings call in July 2018, noting the company would gladly be an Apple supplier again “if the opportunity presents itself”.
Mollenkopf later said there was no reason the pair could not work together again, noting “it makes sense that the technology leader in mobile should partner with the product leader”.