According to a report from Bloomberg, tech giant Apple is planning to expand its wireless ambitions to include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips, with plans to ship these chips in new products starting in 2025. The ultimate goal for the company is to eventually build Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular modem capabilities into a single chip.
For years, Apple has been working on developing its own in-house cellular modems in an effort to replicate its success in processors. The company spent $1 billion to acquire Intel’s modem technology in 2019, and since then, it has been rumored to be on the verge of replacing Qualcomm’s modems in new iPhones. However, these timelines have come and gone and Qualcomm has said that it does not expect 2023 to be the year.
Apple has long relied on Broadcom chipsets for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity across all its products, including the iPhone and Macs. The company and Broadcom last signed a supply deal valued at $15 billion in early 2020, however, it seems that Apple is now working on separate RF and wireless charging chips to replace Broadcom-provided parts.
Apple has some experience in wireless chips beyond its work on cellular modems. The W1, W2, and W3 processors have all been used in various AirPods and Apple Watches, providing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and supporting additional features beyond those in the standard Bluetooth specification.
The Bloomberg report also states that Apple is currently planning to ship its first 5G modems “by the end of 2024 or early 2025.” Qualcomm has said that it expects its revenue from iPhones to be “minimal” by 2025, which could suggest that Qualcomm is betting on a similar timeline. It is possible that some iPhones will use Apple’s modems and others will continue to use Qualcomm’s, similar to how Apple used a mix of Intel and Qualcomm modems in a few iPhone generations before buying Intel’s modem business entirely.
In conclusion, Apple’s ambition to create its own Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip for future iPhones seems in line with the company’s previous strategy to develop its own in-house components to have more control over the final product and its own supply chain. However, it remains to be seen if this move will be as successful as the company’s processors. This development is still in the early stages, but it will be interesting to see how the company navigates this new direction and if it can achieve its ultimate goal of building all wireless capabilities into a single chip.