updated 11:50 am EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Technology too 'notoriously difficult'
Apple's suspected movements towards in-house baseband development are unlikely to bear any fruit in new iPhones until 2015 at the earliest, says JP Morgan analyst Rod Hall. Baseband chips are said to be "notoriously difficult" to develop. As evidence he refers to Broadcom, which despite being the source of some of Apple's recent hires, struggled to develop an LTE modem.
Hall agrees, though, that developing in-house baseband could potentially improve the power efficiency of cellular-equipped Apple devices. The company currently buys baseband chips from Qualcomm, but might be able to integrate proprietary technology into its A-series chipsets. Licensing deals with Qualcomm might still be necessary to deal with patented technologies, and keep Qualcomm financially sound, since in 2012 Apple represented about a quarter of its revenues.
Qualcomm itself has begun integrating baseband into its Snapdragon processors, which are used in many high-profile Android smartphones. That may suggest that even if Apple has to take its time developing integrated baseband, the goal is within reach.