This column originally appeared on Feb. 24 on Real Money, our premium site for active traders. Click here to get great columns like this.
One of the several allegations levied by Apple (AAPL) and antitrust regulators against Qualcomm (QCOM) in their recently launched legal battles against the company is that Qualcomm used its massive chip business to prop ups its even-more-lucrative IP licensing business by threatening to refuse to sell chips to phone makers that didn’t agree to its licensing terms. Since Qualcomm has a near-monopoly position in the 4G LTE and 3G EV-DO modem markets, Apple and others have argued, phone makers have had little choice but to agree.
In that particular respect, new mobile chip launches from Intel (INTC) and to a lesser extent Samsung are welcome news for Qualcomm, since their feature sets give Qualcomm more ammo for its claim that its chip customers have plenty of alternatives. On the other hand, the launches could yield more pain for a mobile chip business that’s already having a rough time.
Ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show (it runs from February 27 to March 2 this year), Intel announced the XMM 7560, a new 2G/3G/4G modem chip that supports 1Gbps peak 4G download speeds and 225Mbps peak upload speeds. And Samsung announced the Exynos 8895, a mobile system-on-chip (SoC) that pairs an 8-core app processor with a modem supporting 1Gbps peak download speeds.