Apple has reportedly assembled an in-house modem engineering team led by its current chipmaking boss Johny Srouji.
According to a new report from Reuters citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Apple has moved its modem chip engineering effort into its in-house hardware technology group from its supply chain unit, which may be a sign that the tech giant wants to develop a key component of its iPhones after years of buying it from outside suppliers.
Additionally, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies Johny Srouji is reportedly taking over management of the company’s modem chip design team. The project had previously been led by Rubén Caballero, who heads up Apple’s wireless system design engineering group. It’s unclear how many engineers are working on the effort, how far along they are in development, or why the team was moved under Srouji.
The inclusion of the new team means that Apple could venture into the “in-house modem territory,” severing dependency on the likes of Qualcomm, Intel, Samsung, and even MediaTek.
According to the latest numbers provided by Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon, modem chips cost between $15 USD and $20, and they will likely cost the iPhone maker between $3 billion to $4 billion for the 200 million devices it sells annually.
Obviously, making its own solutions will require Apple to invest millions of dollars, but according to the report, it will help to save the Cupertino company a lot of money in the long run as well as giving it greater control over its supply chain.
The move comes as 5G looms on the horizon, which promises broadband speeds from cell phone towers. Top Apple competitor Samsung makes its own modem chips, and will likely become one of the first manufacturers to sell a 5G-compatible smartphone with the launch of the Galaxy S10+ later this month.