Intel has called time on its 5G Modem plans despite last year deciding to try and fast track the processors through production. The decision seems to be directly linked to Apple's recent resolution of its patent battle with Qualcomm.
Apple agreed to pay Qualcomm and the two companies immediately stopped all legal actions against each other. Intel was largely banking its 5G modem plans on Apple using them in its first 5G iPhone models (maybe the iPhone 11).
However, the Qualcomm settlement suggests the mobile chip giant will be Apple's manufacturer of choice. Intel has decided to bow out of the market before ever really entering it, saying 5G remains a priority for the company:
“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification' of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” Intel CEO Bob Swan said in a prepared statement.
“5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realize the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”
It seems Intel's inability to make a major impact in the mobile market will continue long term. Last year, the company had planned to fast track its XMM 8160 chip, skipping the XNM 8060 entirely. The company hoped a 2019 launch for the processor would happen and Apple would adopt it as an alternative to Qualcomm.
That decision to fast track came because Qualcomm has already made significant gains on Intel in 5G. The company already has over 30 device makers signed up to use its 5G chips, including modem makers.