Thursday, January 13, 2011

Juxtaposition: Qualcomm, Atheros, Verizon, Apple

Could Qualcomm be angling for more Apple business with Atheros purchase? A not-so-idle thought popped into my head. Apple has sold over 100m iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods touch), and sells 10ms of Macs each year. It sells unknown millions of base stations. Apple has routinely purchased wireless networking chips from Atheros and Broadcom, although it appears that iOS devices are all Broadcom-based.

With a move into CDMA technology, if Apple releases a Verizon Wireless iPhone, Qualcomm may have preemptively offered a one-stop shop for chips. It's also possible Apple's design specs already require Qualcomm and Atheros chips, and Qualcomm stepped in to take advantage of the likely tens of millions of ViPhones that will be sold this year.

Qualcomm isn't the only firm that could provide CDMA chips for a Verizon iPhone, but with its CDMA and GPS portfolio coupled with Atheros Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS product lines, it could be well positioned.

(I have never doubted Apple continuously updates an engineering model of a CDMA iPhone to show Verizon and possibly Sprint. Whether the company has a production-ready model in place, and is gearing up for a launch is unknown. I suspect that the only reason Verizon doesn't have an iPhone is that Verizon won't agree to Apple's requirements. There's no technology limit here at all.)

Verizon’s iPhone Full of Tradeoffs, Good and Bad