Apple Inc moved their modem chip engineering effort into their in-house hardware technology group from their supply chain unit, and have been on the lookout to develop a key component for their iPhones after years of buying it from suppliers outside.
Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, took over Apple’s modem design efforts in January, but this organizational move hasn’t been reported as of now.
Srouji joined Apple in 2008 as a lead of chip design, and this included the custom A-series processors which powered iPhones and iPads and a special Bluetooth chip which helped these devices pair up with their AirPods wireless headphones and other Apple accessories.
The modem efforts were previously being led by Rubén Caballero, who reported to Dan Riccio, the executive responsible for iPad, iPhone and Mac engineering.
Apple has posted a few job listings which require modem engineers in San Diego, that is considered a hub for wireless design talent since Qualcomm’s has been present there since a long time and rumours suggest that Apple has plans to build its workforce there.
It could take years for Apple to make its own modem chips. Linley Gwennap, the President of chip industry research firm The Linley Group said- “When you are Apple, everything needs to be good. There will be no room for the substandard component in their phone.”
Apple has invested in modem chips which are used as carriers and other phone makers have been rolling out devices for their next generation of smartphones, the faster wireless networks known as 5G.
Apple’s competitors, handset makers Samsung Electronics and Huawei Technologies have already been producing their own modems.
Making their own modem chips will likely cost Apple hundreds of millions of dollars or more every year to develop the costs, but this move could save them lots of money eventually.
Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said- Modem chips have been considered to be a major part in the expensive pricing of Apple devices, and they are worth $15 to $20 (approximately Rs. 1,100 to Rs. 1,400) each and it costs Apple $3 billion to $4 billion to make 200 million or so iPhones every year.
Apple could also have the benefit by combining their modem chips with their processor chips, like how Samsung, Huawei and most other phone makers do. This would save them space as well as battery life, which are two very important considerations if Apple decides to introduce augmented reality features into their future products.