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Apple is reportedly ramping up its efforts to bring more iPhone part production in-house. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is building out a new office focused on the development of in-house chips, replacing chips that are currently provided by Broadcom and Skyworks.
The report explains that Apple is looking to hire a “few dozen people” to develop chips in Irvine, California. Coincidentally, this is close to where Skyworks and Broadcom also have offices. Apple is looking for employees who have “experience with modem chips and wireless semiconductors.”
Additionally, Bloomberg reports that the hires working out of the new Irvine offices will work on wireless radios, radio frequency integrated circuits, and a wireless system. The team will also be focused on semiconductors to connect Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The report explains:
It’s part of a broader strategy of expanding satellite offices, letting the tech giant target engineering hotbeds and attract employees who might not want to work at its home base in Silicon Valley. The approach also has helped Apple further its goal of making more of its own components.
The effort builds on Apple’s earlier work in wireless chips. The AirPods and Apple Watch already include custom parts that let them pair with devices, and Apple’s latest iPhones include U1 ultra-wideband chips for more accurately pinpointing their location and connecting with the AirTag accessory and other products.
Apple and Broadcom reached a two-year deal back in January of 2020. Under this deal, Broadcom agreed to supply Apple with additional wireless components. Broadcom had been providing Apple with radio frequency components and modules for the iPhone prior to this deal, so the 2020 agreement marked an expansion of the relationship between Broadcom and Skyworks.
In December of 2019, it was rumored that Broadcom was exploring a possible sale of its RF wireless chip business, with some analysts predicting that Apple could be a potential suitor. This ultimately did not come to fruition.
Meanwhile, Skyworks has relied on Apple for over half of its revenue in recent years. Earlier this year, however, the company reduced its reliance on Apple with a separate $2.75 billion acquisition deal.
Finally, while Apple is currently using Qualcomm modems in the iPhone 13, the company is also still pressing ahead with its efforts to build modems in-house. Apple acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion back in 2019, and reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that an Apple-designed 5G modem will ship in the 2023 iPhone “at the earliest.”