According to some media reports, people familiar with the matter said that Apple has transferred its modem chip engineering business from the supply chain department to its internal hardware technology department. This sign indicates that after years of purchasing modem chips from external suppliers, Apple is seeking to develop key components of the iPhone itself.
Modems are an integral part of connecting smartphones and other mobile devices to wireless data networks. Apple used Qualcomm’s modem chips, but has gradually switched to Intel chips since 2016 and abandoned Qualcomm chips in the iPhone released last year.
According to some sources, Johny Srouji, senior vice president of Hardware Technologies at Apple, took over the company’s modem chip design in January. No related changes have been reported before. Srouji joined Apple in 2008 to lead chip design, including the custom A-series processors that power iPhones and iPads and a special Bluetooth chip that helps those devices pair with its AirPods wireless headphones and other Apple accessories.
Previously Apple’s modem chip business was led by Ruben Caballero, who reported to Dan Riccio, the executive responsible for iPad, iPhone, and Mac engineering. Riccio’s work focuses on the integration of components in the company’s vast electronics supply chain.
However, Apple declined to comment on this. Technology publication The Information previously reported that Apple was working to develop its own modem chip. The Cupertino-based company also released recruitment information for modem engineers in San Diego. Due to the existence of Qualcomm’s headquarters, San Diego is a gathering place for wireless design talents. Apple also said that it plans to build its own team in the local area.
But it can take years for Apple to make its own modem chip, and it’s impossible to know when the chip will appear and which devices will be the first to carry it.
Linley Gwennap, president of chip industry research firm The Linley Group, said in an interview, ‘When you’re Apple, everything has to be good. There’s no room for some substandard component in that phone.’