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

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.”


Economists fear a US recession in 2021

Updated 39 min 52 sec ago

Economists fear a US recession in 2021

  • Trump’s higher budget deficits ‘might dampen the economy’

WASHINGTON: A number of US business economists appear sufficiently concerned about the risks of some of President Donald Trump’s economic policies that they expect a recession in the US by the end of 2021.

Thirty-four percent of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a report being released Monday, said they believe a slowing economy will tip into recession in 2021. 

That’s up from 25 percent in a survey taken in February. Only 2 percent of those polled expect a recession to begin this year, while 38 percent predict that it will occur in 2020.

Trump, however, has dismissed concerns about a recession, offering an optimistic outlook for the economy after last week’s steep drop in the financial markets and saying on Sunday, “I don’t think we’re having a recession.” A strong economy is key to the Republican president’s 2020 reelection prospects.

The economists have previously expressed concern that Trump’s tariffs and higher budget deficits could eventually dampen the economy.

The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on goods from many key US trading partners, from China and Europe to Mexico and Canada. 

Officials maintain that the tariffs, which are taxes on imports, will help the administration gain more favorable terms of trade. But US trading partners have simply retaliated with tariffs of their own.

Trade between the US and China, the two biggest global economies, has plunged. Trump decided last Wednesday to postpone until Dec. 15 tariffs on about 60 percent of an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, granting a reprieve from a planned move that would have extended duties to nearly everything the US buys from China.

The financial markets last week signaled the possibility of a US recession, adding to concerns over the ongoing trade tensions and word from Britain and Germany that their economies are shrinking.

The economists surveyed by the NABE were skeptical about prospects for success of the latest round of US-China trade negotiations. Only 5 percent predicted that a comprehensive trade deal would result, 64 percent suggested a superficial agreement was possible and nearly 25 percent expected nothing to be agreed upon by the two countries.

The 226 respondents, who work mainly for corporations and trade associations, were surveyed between July 14 and Aug. 1. That was before the White House announced 10 percent tariffs on the additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, the Chinese currency dipped below the seven-yuan-to-$1 level for the first time in 11 years and the Trump administration formally labeled China a currency manipulator.

As a whole, the business economists’ recent responses have represented a rebuke of the Trump administration’s overall approach to the economy.

Still, for now, most economic signs appear solid. Employers are adding jobs at a steady pace, the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low and consumers are optimistic. US retail sales figures out last Thursday showed that they jumped in July by the most in four months.