December 04, 2023 – Apple’s 6G Endeavor Takes Center Stage
In a recent edition of “Power On” by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, Apple’s plans for 6G technology development were brought to the forefront. Simultaneously, in his own Twitter post, Gurman boldly declared, “Forget Apple’s 5G modem – though it’s not officially canceled, Apple’s 6G research is heating up.”
According to Gurman’s insights, while Apple has been working on developing 5G cellular modems, the company is now shifting more of its focus towards 6G. Additionally, he delved into the reasons behind the turmoil surrounding Apple’s modem chip-related efforts:
Apple is racing against time to complete the development of its modem chip, ensuring it won’t need to rekindle its partnership with Qualcomm and purchase components. The longstanding feud between the two companies has made Apple reluctant to depend on Qualcomm for such a critical component in their iPhones. Further delays would be seen as an admission of defeat.
Modem chip development is an exceptionally challenging task, requiring extensive global testing. Modem chips are also an essential component in mobile devices. If Apple’s modem chip doesn’t perform well upon release, it could be one of the biggest “Black eyes” of Tim Cook’s tenure as CEO.
Apple’s strategic move to bring modem chip development in-house is aimed at gaining more control over the technology and potentially reaping economic benefits. However, unlike some of Apple’s in-house chips like the M-series and A-series, modem chips are unlikely to deliver significant performance improvements. This could present greater marketing challenges for Apple.
Gurman further revealed that while developing their first 5G modem, Apple is continually recruiting engineers to work on 6G research. Apple’s interest in 6G technology can be traced back to as early as 2021, but now, Apple’s official website features a highly specific job listing:
“As a Cellular Platform Architecture Engineer, you will drive and coordinate the design and modeling of the 6G reference architecture.
You will develop a set of suitable prototype implementations and reference architecture models to evaluate candidate technologies and use cases.
In this role, you will plan, drive, and actively participate in these modeling and prototype design activities.
You will collaborate cross-functionally with the R&D team to propose, plan, and execute simulations and experiments to evaluate 6G candidate technologies!”
However, it’s important to note that 6G-related standards are not expected to be finalized until at least 2030.
Previously, there were reports from the operator of the Naver Blog news aggregation account “yeux1122” in South Korea, suggesting that Apple’s attempts to independently develop modem chips have not yielded successful results, and the company is putting an end to this multi-year investment project.
The authenticity of this report remains uncertain, but as reported by The Wall Street Journal in September, Apple’s plans for in-house modem chip development have faced numerous challenges, including unrealistic goals, insufficient understanding of the involved complexities, and unusable prototype products.