In the cutthroat world of tech, a tale unfolds where Qualcomm’s aggressive tactics forced Intel out of the iPad Mini 2. Apple’s desire to diversify its chip suppliers clashed with Qualcomm’s unwavering grip on the mobile market. Tony Blevins, Apple’s procurement guru, found himself at the heart of this battle. Determined to break Qualcomm’s monopoly, he embarked on a secret mission to find a new chip supplier, codenamed Project Antique. Little did he know that this pursuit would not only expose Qualcomm’s questionable business practices but also reveal a hidden truth about the power dynamics in the tech industry. Join us as we delve into this gripping tale of corporate dominance and the relentless pursuit of innovation.## More on the Case

This high-profile antitrust case, initiated in January 2017, involves Qualcomm facing legal challenges not only from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) but also from several of its allies, including technology giants Apple, Intel, Huawei, and Lenovo. The outcome of this legal battle has significant implications for Qualcomm’s business practices and the purchasing decisions of telecommunications companies. However, the potential impact on consumer experiences, such as smartphone pricing and 5G network connectivity, remains uncertain.

FTC’s Allegations

The FTC asserts that Qualcomm has employed anticompetitive tactics to maintain its dominance and suppress competitors. Specifically, the FTC has highlighted Qualcomm’s “no license, no chips” policy, which requires companies to acquire expensive patent licenses before purchasing and utilizing Qualcomm’s chips.

Qualcomm’s Defense

Qualcomm has yet to present its defense formally in court, but industry analyst Ben Bajarin suggests that the FTC will face challenges in proving harm to competition beyond past practices. According to Bajarin, demonstrating the future impact on 5G network speeds and chipset prices will be particularly difficult.

Impact on Consumers

While the outcome of the case may reshape Qualcomm’s business practices, it is unclear whether consumers will experience direct effects on smartphone pricing or the timing of 5G connectivity advancements. The full impact of the legal proceedings remains to be determined.## ‘No License, No Chips’

In 2005, a policy known as “no license, no chips” came to Apple’s attention during its supplier negotiations for the iPhone’s components. This policy demanded that potential suppliers obtain a license agreement before providing samples or technical specifications.

Qualcomm, a prominent semiconductor manufacturer, enforced this policy, requiring Apple to cross-license its intellectual property for access to Qualcomm’s components. According to Gene Blevins, a former Apple executive, this demand raised concerns within the company.

Blevins questioned the rationale behind requiring a license agreement to purchase components, particularly given Qualcomm’s request for reciprocal licensing rights to Apple’s intellectual property. He emphasized that such agreements seemed to favor Qualcomm’s interests rather than those of other parties.

In response to Qualcomm’s stance, Apple sought alternative options for modem chip suppliers. Intel remained a key partner, but the company also engaged in discussions with MediaTek and Samsung regarding potential chip deals.

Additional Information on Keywords:

  • No license, no chips policy
  • Qualcomm’s licensing demands
  • Apple’s concerns and search for alternative suppliers
  • Intellectual property licensing agreements
  • Modem chip market competition## FAQs

1. Why did Apple want to include an Intel communication chip in the iPad Mini 2?
Answer: To reduce reliance on Qualcomm and potentially negotiate more favorable terms.

2. What did Qualcomm offer Apple in exchange for exclusive use of its chips?
Answer: Rebates that reduced costs to mitigate concerns about “exorbitant” pricing.

3. Who is Tony Blevins, and what was his role in the matter?
Answer: Apple’s vice president of procurement, who played a key role in negotiations with Qualcomm and initiated Project Antique to find an alternative supplier.

4. What was Project Antique’s objective?
Answer: To reduce Qualcomm’s dominance and find a second modem chip supplier.

5. What is the “no license, no chips” policy?
Answer: A Qualcomm policy requiring companies to pay for patent licensing before being eligible to purchase Qualcomm chips.

6. How did Apple respond to the “no license, no chips” policy?
Answer: They expressed concern about the requirement to cross-license their intellectual property with Qualcomm.

7. Besides Apple, what other companies have criticized Qualcomm’s business practices?
Answer: Huawei, Via Telecom, and Intel.

8. What is the primary argument made by the FTC against Qualcomm?
Answer: That Qualcomm’s practices have harmed competition and hindered innovation.

9. What is the potential impact of the case on Qualcomm’s business practices?
Answer: The ruling could potentially restrict or alter Qualcomm’s business methods, affecting how phone companies procure modem chips.

10. Will the outcome likely lead to lower smartphone prices?
Answer: Unlikely, as manufacturers are not expected to pass on any cost savings to consumers.

11. Has Qualcomm responded to the allegations?
Answer: Yes, but their defense is scheduled to be presented later in the trial.

12. What is the significance of this case for the mobile industry?
Answer: It examines the power dynamics and business practices in the mobile chip market, potentially shaping the future of competition and innovation.


Qualcomm, a leading supplier of modem chips, has been accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of anti-competitive practices. According to the FTC, Qualcomm has used its dominance in the market to prevent competitors from entering and stifle innovation. One of the alleged practices is the “no license, no chips” policy, which requires companies to pay for patent licenses before they can purchase Qualcomm chips.

Apple, a major consumer of Qualcomm’s chips, has expressed concerns and attempted to negotiate more favorable terms. However, Apple’s efforts to diversify its supply chain by including Intel chips in the iPad Mini 2 were allegedly thwarted by Qualcomm’s hardball tactics. This prompted Apple to initiate Project Antique to find alternative modem chip suppliers.

Other companies, such as Huawei and Via Telecom, have also raised concerns about Qualcomm’s business practices. Intel, a competitor in the modem chip market, has criticized Qualcomm’s practices while acknowledging their technical expertise.

The outcome of the FTC case could have significant implications for the mobile industry. If Qualcomm is found to have violated antitrust laws, it could face penalties and restrictions on its business practices. This could open the door for increased competition and innovation in the modem chip market. However, it is unlikely that any cost savings or lower smartphone prices will be passed on to consumers.