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Qualcomm Says Apple Broke Contract, Hindered Performance of Its Chipsets (arstechnica.com) 92

Qualcomm has filed a 139-page rebuttal of a lawsuit lodged by Apple in January in which the US chipmaker counterclaimed that the iPhone giant was "misrepresenting facts and making false statements." From a report on ArsTechnica: It alleged that Apple had "breached" and "mischaracterized" deals it had in place with Qualcomm and accused the Tim Cook-run firm of interfering with the chipmaker's "long-standing agreements" with iPhone and iPad manufacturers, such as Foxconn. In a statement, Qualcomm said, "Apple effectively chose to limit the performance of the Qualcomm-based iPhones by not taking advantage of the full potential speed of which Qualcomm's modems are capable. Apple's actions were intended to prevent consumers from realizing that iPhones containing Qualcomm chipsets performed far better than iPhones containing chipsets supplied by Intel."
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Qualcomm Says Apple Broke Contract, Hindered Performance of Its Chipsets

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  • Based on my analysis of corporations filing lawsuits against their suppliers, it is usually when the buyer has sufficiently guaranteed win in the lawsuit or have an alternate supplier (internal or external) available. So either the Apple will win this suit or it will switch to some other supplier.
    Disclaimer: I own Apple stock and have no direct position in Qualcomm.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @01:59PM (#54215419) Homepage

    Anyone remember the article from a year or two ago, when it was discovered that Apple was sourcing CPUs for its phones from two different manufacturers, and the phones containing CPUs from one source performed marginally better than the phones contain CPUs from the other source?

    There was a big to-do, with people trying to figure out which iPhones were "the good ones", and people who had received (or thought they had received) the slower version were complaining and debating whether they ought to return their "inferior" iPhone in order to get one of the "better" ones.

    Of course it turned out the difference wasn't really noticeable unless you were specifically benchmarking for it, but the fact that it was detectable at all produced a big (well, medium-sized) scandal and a headache for Apple.

    Given that, I'm not at all surprised that Apple now aims for uniform performance across all units of a given model, rather than for best-possible-performance on any given OEM chipset. Uniformity makes everyone happy, whereas an optimal performance will go unnoticed by the people who have it and the people who don't will be pissed off.

    • by chaboud ( 231590 )

      Given that every single iPhone 6S I've encountered with the dreaded 30% shutdown bug (>10 of them) has been a Samsung-based device, there's at least a difference in the device builds. It may or may not be the SoC.

      • i get this and my 6S is on the battery replacement list. It's probably something with the battery firmware combined with the samsung SoC

    • Anyone remember the article from a year or two ago, when it was discovered that Apple was sourcing CPUs for its phones from two different manufacturers, and the phones containing CPUs from one source performed marginally better than the phones contain CPUs from the other source?

      There was a big to-do, with people trying to figure out which iPhones were "the good ones", and people who had received (or thought they had received) the slower version were complaining and debating whether they ought to return their "inferior" iPhone in order to get one of the "better" ones.

      Of course it turned out the difference wasn't really noticeable unless you were specifically benchmarking for it, but the fact that it was detectable at all produced a big (well, medium-sized) scandal and a headache for Apple.

      Given that, I'm not at all surprised that Apple now aims for uniform performance across all units of a given model, rather than for best-possible-performance on any given OEM chipset. Uniformity makes everyone happy, whereas an optimal performance will go unnoticed by the people who have it and the people who don't will be pissed off.

      Exactly. You have hit the nail on the head!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Problem for Qualcomm is that it makes their chips look as bad as Intel ones, when they are actually quite a bit better. All that because Apple wants to second source everything to avoid part manufacturers doing what it does to it does to them.

      They could do what Samsung does. Different models for different parts of the world. The Galaxy S line usually has different CPUs and modems in different markets.

      • by Zxern ( 766543 )

        This is to do with the modem chips in the phones. The intel chips don't have the functionality to work on Verizon's non lte networks, so Qualcomm chips were used in the Verizon model. This is why a phone purchased for att&t or tmoblie won't work on Verzions network if LTE is not available.

        THe Qualcomm modem is theoretically faster than the Intel modem on LTE, but real world use is unlikely to ever see the difference.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Qualcomm is mad Apple dares to explore 2nd source for modem chip sets.

    Everyone knows the qualcomm LTE modems are better under optimal conditions but I feel Apple is more interested in providing a constant experience across it's platform. It's easier to tell developers 'expect this many megabits out of iphoneX in LTE' rather than 'Depending on the modem chipset, which we don't tell you about, expect this many megabits'

    My money is on Apple. They don't take shit from vendors. They'll design and fab their own S

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by clonehappy ( 655530 )

      Everyone knows the qualcomm LTE modems are better under optimal conditions but I feel Apple is more interested in providing a constant experience across it's platform.

      That's the problem, under optimal conditions the performance IS consistent between the two modems. However, as the signal level starts to drop, the Intel modem's performance drops off a cliff. It's the real-world experience that suffers using Intel modems, not the lab tests.

      I understand Apple's desire to cheap out on the modems to squeeze a dime from a business perspective. However, they position the iPhone as a premium product and using sub-par chips that provide sub-par performance will give consumers the

      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        I understand Apple's desire to cheap out on the modems to squeeze a dime from a business perspective. However, they position the iPhone as a premium product and using sub-par chips that provide sub-par performance will give consumers the opposite idea. If Apple was concerned with having a consistent user experience, they wouldn't be using Intel modems at all.

        It's hard to love either company. It's easy to hate on Apple, but most consumers know nothing about how Qualcomm is getting sued all over the world for anticompetitive practices -- including by regulators in the U.S., who don't like how Qualcomm licenses its patents. I don't blame Apple for wanting to open up the market. The problem appears to be that it underestimated the inferiority of Intel's modems. The question is ... is Intel 100 percent to blame for that underperformance, or does it once again have s

      • Everyone knows the qualcomm LTE modems are better under optimal conditions but I feel Apple is more interested in providing a constant experience across it's platform.

        That's the problem, under optimal conditions the performance IS consistent between the two modems. However, as the signal level starts to drop, the Intel modem's performance drops off a cliff. It's the real-world experience that suffers using Intel modems, not the lab tests.

        I understand Apple's desire to cheap out on the modems to squeeze a dime from a business perspective. However, they position the iPhone as a premium product and using sub-par chips that provide sub-par performance will give consumers the opposite idea. If Apple was concerned with having a consistent user experience, they wouldn't be using Intel modems at all.

        Perhaps instead of "cheaping-out", Apple was just trying to hit a Production Target, and sourcing from mulitple suppliers was the only way to do that. I would imagine that both chipsets performed "to spec" in their "alternate source" testing (or else Intel wouldn't have "gotten the sockets" at all; but then, after a few million units started hitting the streets, the real-world performance differences started becoming apparent.

        Bottom line: Apple didn't do this "on purpose", or as a "cost-saving-measure"; but

      • by Zxern ( 766543 )

        What's also terrible is that the Intel modems are not compatible with cdma networks. Meaning that if LTE is not available, you can't use verzions network with an iphone that has the Intel modem.

        Be careful if you want to switch providers.

  • It's clear Qualcomm is looking to publicly embarrass Apple for having the temerity to use Intel's competing LTE chipset for its non-CDMA iPhone 7 units. Perhaps Apple did hamstring the Qualcomm chip so that the performance differential to Intel's chipset would be lower, and thus prevent customers from self-selecting the Qualcomm-equipped models. Even so, that's between Apple and its customers. Qualcomm has no place interceding itself in that process.
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Perhaps Apple did hamstring the Qualcomm chip so that the performance differential to Intel's chipset would be lower, and thus prevent customers from self-selecting the Qualcomm-equipped models. Even so, that's between Apple and its customers. Qualcomm has no place interceding itself in that process.

      No? Qualcomm's claims are all there in the filing [arstechnica.net]. Among them:

      235. Apple’s Misstatements About the Relative Performance of the
      Qualcomm Versus Intel Modems in iPhone 7 and Its Threat Have Harmed
      Qualcomm and Consumers. Absent Apple’s conduct, Qualcomm’s chipsets would
      be in higher demand, and Qualcomm would be able to sell more chips to Apple to
      meet that demand. Apple’s decision not to use Qualcomm’s enhanced chipsets
      denied consumers access to higher-performing devices, and Apple’s threats and
      other efforts to hide the truth deprived consumers of meaningful choice. And, as
      noted above, by choosing not to utilize the higher data rates that Qualcomm’s
      chipsets can reach for the Qualcomm-based iPhones, Apple reduces the data
      download resources available to other smartphones operating on the network.

      236. By choosing not to use the best performing Qualcomm-based iPhones
      (and risking that consumers would find out), Apple faced a potential backlash from
      its customers. It avoided that backlash by concealing the truth, at the expense of
      Qualcomm and consumers alike.

      So in other words, Qualcomm is saying that the fact that consumers could not self-select Qualcomm iPhones materially affected its business. It further alleges that consumers were not properly informed, not just because Apple withheld information, but because Apple deliberately misrepresented the facts by stating publicly that the performance of both models was identical.

      This isn't the main claim of the lawsuit, though. Qualcomm is alleging Apple

      • And, as
        noted above, by choosing not to utilize the higher data rates that Qualcomm’s
        chipsets can reach for the Qualcomm-based iPhones, Apple reduces the data
        download resources available to other smartphones operating on the network.

        I don't understand how this, how does this reduce download resources available to other smartphones operating on the network? Is it that the phones become more chatty and thus load the network with a bunch of overhead? That might warrant a class-action against Apple by all mobile users, not sure what the claim would be since IANAL.

        Yes, I did not RTFA, this is still slashdot, right?

      • Yep, I understand Qualcomm's position regarding the claims about performance in the lawsuit. I just don't see how that has any relevance to their case - Apple was under no obligation in how they used Qualcomm's chips. The rest of the lawsuit they have a claim - the other part is just an attempt to embarrass Apple.
        • It's a counterclaim. When a party sues another party, the defendant can make counter claims for damages. It's not a defense to the original claim.
      • So in other words, Qualcomm is saying that the fact that consumers could not self-select Qualcomm iPhones materially affected its business. It further alleges that consumers were not properly informed, not just because Apple withheld information, but because Apple deliberately misrepresented the facts by stating publicly that the performance of both models was identical.

        I can't see any justifiable claim that Qualcomm could reasonably make in those statements. Even if Apple did everything Qualcomm said they did, Qualcomm has no standing to sue Apple as the consumers would be hurt not Qualcomm. Now if Apple ran ad after ad saying that Qualcomm chips were terrible, they could sue Apple for those statements.

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