Apple opened talks about an acquisition of Intel’s smartphone modem business, as the iPhone maker looks to develop more components in-house, The Information reported.
Four sources told the news outlet Apple had been in talks about the move since 2018, with discussions centered on a possible buyout of the German division of Intel’s ailing modem unit.
Intel abandoned plans to launch 5G modems in April, after concluding there was no money to be made from the business. The Information reported it is now looking to sell the struggling business in pieces.
The modem unit is spread globally, but it maintains a foundation in Germany following an acquisition of Infineon’s mobile operations in 2011.
Intel’s decision to cancel its 5G modem plans came shortly after Apple settled long-running disputes with Qualcomm, agreeing a multi-year licensing and chipset supply deal. The deal was a hammer blow to Intel’s ambitions to become Apple’s 5G chip supplier.
However, despite the deal with Qualcomm, Apple has reportedly been putting together an internal team with a long-term goal of building its own mobile modems. It wants to reduce its reliance on external suppliers for components in its devices and Intel’s business could be a crucial part of the puzzle.
A source said any deal would include access to Intel patents and products, and see hundreds of Intel engineers join the iPhone maker.
An Intel representative said: “We have hired outside advisers 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. We have received significant interest in the business but have nothing more to say at this time.”