"Hi, Speed". There couldn't have been a more glaring hint than the splash page for the special iPhone event held on October 13, 2020. As we all suspected, Apple unveiled the 5G iPhone. But it wasn't just one phone. It was the entire iPhone 12 line up configured with what can only be the latest 5G modem and RF module. If anything, this line up is a shot in the arm for 5G that has suffered a lackluster start and growing doubt about its value to the average consumer. This is what operators around the globe have been waiting for, the 5G iPhone.
Shortly after Softbank announced that it was looking to spinoff or sell Arm, which they acquired in 2016 for $32 billion, the rumor mill went into full speed. Speculation ran the gamut from Intel to Apple as potential buyers. Who would court Arm? Rumors settled on Nvidia, the GPU company. Would a Nvidia + Arm union make sense? After all, Nvidia has done well and created a disruptive narrative within the semiconductor industry with its GPU-centered plot line which branches off into numerous subplots in telco networking, edge computing and various AI application domains such as autonomous vehicles, intelligent systems and smart manufacturing.
An unexpected but pleasant surprise was announced at Qualcomm's recent earnings call. Huawei had settled its $1.8 billion dispute with Qualcomm regarding the licensing of essential technologies. It represents another important win for Qualcomm in its long and hard fought battle with OEMs including Apple to preserve the integrity and vitality of its technology business. It can be considered a win for innovation. But what does the settlement mean in the grand scheme of things and the rising tensions between the US government and Huawei?
Necessity is the mother of invention. There has been no moment of need in modern times as urgent as what we face today as humanity grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. In three months, the virus has spread to over 180 countries around the globe, infecting millions, and has arrested the largest and smallest of economies. At the same time, it has created an unprecedented need for connectivity and communications. Now, more than ever, unconventional thinking and leadership as well as innovative applications of technologies such as 5G are dire necessities for addressing the many COVID-19-related challenges that are disrupting millions of lives and jeopardizing trillions in economic value.
With Release 16 of the 3GPP 5G standards slated to be frozen next month and completed in June of 2020, the mobile industry is poised to embrace Standalone (SA) 5G this year. Qualcomm, a leader in 5G technology, introduced yesterday their third-generation modem-RF system, Snapdragon X60 which comes at an opportune time in the evolutionary timeline of 5G standards and marks a thoughtful pivot in Qualcomm's RFFE (Radio Frequency Front End) strategy.