Apple appears to be lining up its field of parts suppliers for the iPhone 5 due out next year, and Qualcomm may be in the mix. A report by Taipei's Economic Daily News Thursday cited by AppleInsider suggests that Qualcomm may provide the so-called baseband or wireless communications chips for the iPhone 5 and a new version of the iPad.
While it's no doubt certain that Qualcomm is among the field of designated suppliers for the upcoming LTE 4G version of the iPhone, it's very likely that the primary vendor has yet to be chosen, say analysts familiar with Apple's bake-off contests.Infineon's (IFX) wireless unit, which agreed to be acquired by Intel (INTC - Get Report) a month ago, is the incumbent chip supplier to Apple's iPhone and a leading candidate for the 4G job. Also vying for the business is ST Ericsson, a 4G chip-making joint-venture between STMicro (STM) and Ericsson (ERIC). If true to its track record, Apple will have a demanding list of feature requirements and prices to narrow the field to one primary vendor, say analysts. The problem for Qualcomm is political. The San Diego chip giant has been a key supplier to Motorola (MOT) and HTC for Google (GOOG) Android devices that compete against the iPhone. Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor is also expected to be in some of Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone 7 devices coming next month, putting it squarely in the wrong camp. The favorites in this race are Infineon and perhaps more attractively ST Ericsson, which is expected to be very eager to gain the iPhone design win and the primary supplier role, say analysts. So while Qualcomm is certainly in the field, it's doubtful to be the outstanding winner in Apple's eye. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York.
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