Global semiconductor manufacturers are about to release 5G modem chips one after another with a number of 5G smartphones scheduled to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 on Feb. 25.
Apple is reportedly developing its own 5G modem chip. According to LetsGoDigital, a Dutch online magazine, Apple filed a trademark for "Apple Bald Eagle 5G" with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) on Feb. 3, suggesting that the company is indeed developing its own 5G modem.
Apple purchased chips from Qualcomm until 2016 and has purchased chips only from Intel since last year after its patent litigation with Qualcomm.
According to LetsGoDigital, the trademark is classified as Class 38 with the description "mobile telecommunication network services." The report says Apple has also filed an associated logo of the American flag and the American national symbol, the famous bald eagle, combined with the Apple logo.
Apple appears to have decided to produce its own modem chip in order to vie for 5G smartphone market leadership. Intel unveiled its 5G chip as recently as in November 2018 and is planning to start manufacturing it in the second half of this year, which is belated in comparison to Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm. Apple has not yet announced when it will release the 5G iPhone whereas the other major smartphone manufacturers are planning to unveil their 5G phones at the upcoming MWC.
Apple needs to invest at least hundreds of millions of dollars for years to produce its own chips, yet the development is likely to be a boon for the company in the end. “Apple pays US$3 billion to US$4 billion for iPhone chips a year, each costing US$15 to US$20, and it will be advantageous for Apple to combine its own chip and processor for space-saving purposes and a longer battery life,” Reuters pointed out.
Competition in the 5G chip market is likely to continue to intensify. Samsung Electronics unveiled its multimode chip Exynos Modem 5100 in August 2018 and the Galaxy S10 is going to come with the chip. Earlier, Qualcomm unveiled Snapdragon X50 and it has been adopted by a number of companies such as LG Electronics, Sony, HTC and Xiaomi. Huawei’s foldable phone is expected to come with the Balong 5G01 chip developed by its subsidiary HiSilicon. Global consulting firm Deloitte recently forecast that one million 5G chips will be sold this year.