If it seems like the long-standing strategic partnership between the world’s second largest mobile device vendor and by far the most successful smartphone SoC manufacturer around is in danger of collapsing for good, you may find solace in the recent words of Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf.
The San Diego-based semiconductor mammoth’s Chief Executive Officer continues to strongly believe his company and old-time ally turned bitter legal enemy Apple can “get through” their current conflicts.
While iPhones don’t use Android-prevalent Snapdragon processors, opting instead for internally-designed A-series chips typically produced by TSMC or Samsung, Apple’s iDevices are routinely filled with Qualcomm-made modems and other essential components.
After years of so-called “double-dipping”, a practice that sees Qualcomm collect both a fixed fee for cellular parts supplied to Apple and royalty payments for patents covering the same underlying technology, the world’s most profitable smartphone manufacturer has decided a change is in order.
The two companies haven’t managed to peacefully agree on a revised payment system, taking their misunderstandings to courts around the world in a full-scale war that’s on the verge of getting uglier than even Samsung and Apple’s seemingly endless patent battles.
Still, Steven Mollenkopf calls Qualcomm’s relationship with Apple a “very strong” and “broad” one, anticipating an amicable conclusion of recent disputes… at some point in the not-so-distant future.
Qualcomm’s CEO even tried to play down the seriousness of these frictions, saying they “sometimes” happen, eventually and inevitably coming to an end behind closed doors. That sounds mildly encouraging, but it remains to be seen if Apple is also willing to settle, paying Qualcomm enough for the “fundamental technology that makes the phone the phone.”