Just yesterday, Qualcomm drastically upped the ante in its legal case against Apple, accusing the company of stealing source code and giving it to Intel.
In a new interview today, however, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf took a friendly approach to the situation, and said he expects Apple will become a Qualcomm customer again in the future.
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It’s believed that this year’s iPhone models exclusively use radio chips from Intel. Apple’s move to ditch Qualcomm completely is, of course, a huge blow to Qualcomm, but Mollenkopf still remains optimistic about the future of the relationship between the two companies.
Speaking to Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, Mollenkopf explained that in these types of situations, the need for advanced technology will often outweigh business relationships and disputes like what’s currently going on between Qualcomm and Apple now.
When asked if he thinks Apple will eventually become a Qualcomm customer again, he said:
I think so. If you look, I always believe that if you have leadership technology that your roadmap will eventually dominate the business relationship between companies. And I think there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case here.
I think there’s probably no better opportunity and partner for Qualcomm than to work with Apple.
Mollenkopf also says that it makes sense for the ‘technology leader in mobile’ to have a close relationship with the ‘product leader in mobile.’
It makes sense that the technology leader in mobile should be partnered with the product leader in mobile. Those things tend to work out. But the way that we think about the business is that eventually you get the disputes figured out and you move on into a different period.
One important thing to note is that Apple technically still is a Qualcomm customer as it continues to sell pre-iPhone XS devices, which use Qualcomm chip technology.
Ultimately, Mollenkopf says that Qualcomm has had disputes with licensees over IP pricing in the past, and that the only difference here is the size of the company.
We’ve had disputes with licensees in the past as well over the price of IP. It’s really no different than that here. It’s just bigger companies. And remember, we’re both big companies. They’re obviously a vey large company, but we’re not a small company. Those things will get resolved. Some times they get resolved on the court room steps, sometimes they don’t. We don’t know which way it’s going here.
While Mollenkopf seems eager to improve the Qualcomm and Apple’s relationship, things are looking increasingly dire in the ongoing legal battle between the two. Just yesterday, Qualcomm levied new accusations against Apple, saying:
It is now apparent Apple engaged in a years-long campaign of false promises, stealth and subterfuge designed to steal Qualcomm’s confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of improving the performance of lower-quality modem chipsets, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Qualcomm’s Apple-based business.
That language from Qualcomm is certainly far different from the approach Mollenkopf took today. As for how this legal battle eventually plays out, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.