Apple demanded $1 billion for chance to win iPhone chip contract, Qualcomm CEO testifies

Under the 2011 deal, Qualcomm was named Apple’s sole supplier of modem chips. (Reuters)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Apple demanded $1 billion for chance to win iPhone chip contract, Qualcomm CEO testifies

  • The payment from Qualcomm to Apple was meant to ease the technical costs of swapping out the iPhone’s then-current Infineon chip with Qualcomm’s
  • While such a payment is common in the industry, the size of it was not

SAN JOSE, California: Qualcomm sought to become the sole supplier of modem chips for Apple’s iPhone to recoup a $1-billion “incentive payment” that Apple insisted on, not to block rivals from the market, Qualcomm’s chief executive testified on Friday.
The payment from Qualcomm to Apple — part of a 2011 deal between Apple and Qualcomm — was meant to ease the technical costs of swapping out the iPhone’s then-current Infineon chip with Qualcomm’s, CEO Steve Mollenkopf testified at a trial with the US Federal Trade Commission.
While such a payment is common in the industry, the size of it was not, Mollenkopf said.
Under the 2011 deal, Qualcomm was named Apple’s sole supplier of modem chips, which help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks, in exchange for which Qualcomm agreed to give Apple a rebate — the exact nature of which has not been disclosed. Apple could choose another supplier but it would lose the rebate, effectively increasing the cost of its chips.
Antitrust regulators have argued the deal with Apple was part of a pattern of anticompetitive conduct by Qualcomm to preserve its dominance in modem chips and exclude players like Intel.
At a federal courthouse in San Jose, California, Mollenkopf testified that Apple demanded the $1 billion without any assurance of how many chips it would buy, which pushed the chip supplier to pursue an exclusivity arrangement in order to ensure it sold enough chips to recover the payment.
Qualcomm was not aiming to block rivals like Intel, he said.
“The risk was, what would the volume be? Would we get everything we wanted, given that we paid so much in incentive?” Mollenkopf testified.
Earlier in the day, Apple supply chain executive Tony Blevins testified that it was Apple’s practice to pursue at least two suppliers and as many as six for each of the more than 1,000 components in the iPhone.
The company stopped trying to place an Intel modem chip in the iPad Mini 2 because losing the rebates on Qualcomm’s chips would have made the overall cost too high, he said.
“They made it very unattractive for us to use another chip supplier,” Blevins said of the rebates. “These rebates were very, very large.”


Malaysian court delays Goldman case on 1MDB fund theft

Updated 41 min 21 sec ago
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Malaysian court delays Goldman case on 1MDB fund theft

  • Malaysia filed criminal charges against three units and two ex-employees of the Wall Street titan in December
  • They are accused of misappropriating $2.7 billion and other crimes in relation to bond issues they arranged for 1MDB
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian case against Goldman Sachs on charges the US investment bank stole huge sums from the country’s 1MDB state fund was postponed Monday until September after defense lawyers argued there was a problem with paperwork.
Malaysia filed criminal charges against three units and two ex-employees of the Wall Street titan in December, accusing them of misappropriating $2.7 billion and other crimes in relation to bond issues they arranged for 1MDB.
Allegations that huge sums were looted from the investment vehicle — in a fraud that allegedly involved former Malaysian leader Najib Razak — contributed to the last government’s election defeat last year.
At a procedural hearing in Kuala Lumpur Monday, Goldman lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said the Hong Kong unit of the bank received its summons just last week, while the summons sent to the Singapore unit only included three out of four charges.
The third Goldman unit in the case is based in London.
He asked for three months to get further instructions from his clients, and the judge set September 30 for another procedural hearing.
Prosecutor Aaron Paul Chelliah told reporters that the prosecution believed all documents had been properly served.
“Their clients have some reservations on whether they were properly served,” he said. “Our position is they have been served.”
Goldman helped arranged bonds totaling $6.5 billion on three occasions for 1MDB, for which they earned fees said to be well above typical rates.
The bank and its former employees are accused of making false and misleading statements to misappropriate huge sums from the 2012 and 2013 bond issuances.
Goldman has vowed to fight the charges, saying the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to the bank.
The former bankers accused in the case are Tim Leissner and Ng Chong Hwa, and both have also been charged in the US over the scandal.
Leissner pleaded guilty in America, while Ng was extradited to the US from Malaysia in May and pleaded not guilty.