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.”


Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

Updated 24 March 2019
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Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

  • The initiative will help Abu Dhabi reduce reliance on oil
  • Mubadala hopes to attract Chinese and Indian companies

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi will commit up to $272 million to support technology start-ups, it said on Sunday, in a dedicated hub as part of efforts to diversify its economy.

US tech giant Microsoft will be a strategic partner, providing technology and cloud services to the businesses that join the hub as the capital of the United Arab Emirates continues its push to reduce reliance on oil revenue.
Abu Dhabi derives about 50 percent of its real gross domestic product and about 90 percent of central government revenue from the hydrocarbon sector, according to ratings agency S&P.
The emirate launched a $13.6 billion stimulus fund, Ghadan 21, in September last year to accelerate economic growth. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic. The new initiative, named Hub 71, is linked to Ghadan will also involve the launch of a $136 million fund to invest in start-ups, said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the technology arm of Mubadala Investment Co.
The goal is to have 100 companies over the next three to five years, Ajami said. “The market opportunities in this region are immense,” he added.
Mubadala, with assets of $225 billion and a big investor in tech companies, will act as the driver of the hub, located in the emirate’s financial district.
Softbank will be active in the hub and support the expansion of companies in which it has invested, Ajami said, adding that Mubadala is also aiming to attract Chinese and Indian companies, among others.
Mubadala which has committed $15 billion to the Softbank Vision Fund, plans to launch a $400 million fund to invest in leading European technology companies.
Incentives mapped out by the government include housing, office space and health insurance as part of the $272 million commitment, Ajami said.
Abu Dhabi will also announce a new research and development initiative on Monday linked to the Ghadan 21 plan, according to an invitation sent to journalists.