From Christopher Mims' "Apple’s Not-So-Secret Plan to Take Another Gigantic Bite of the Microchip Market" in the Weekend Wall Street Journal:
Apple has shown it can design the brains of its devices, and is now poised to do something potentially even harder: create the chips that enable them to communicate with the internet.
A series of moves by the tech giant, as well as signals from its suppliers, make clear that it aims to start designing the modems of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Doing so could enable a future of always-on smart glasses and augmented reality, more wearables with their own independent connection to cellular networks, Mac laptops with 5G connectivity, and faster-than-ever downloads and streaming on its flagship iPhones.
But first, the company must accomplish something that has defeated other tech giants, including Intel It must show that not only can it design its own wireless modems, but that it can make them good enough to justify switching away from the ones Apple now uses, which are made by Qualcomm, for decades the world’s dominant modem-chip maker...
In November 2021, Qualcomm’s chief financial officer said the company expected to supply 20% of the 5G modems Apple uses in its mobile devices in 2023. Currently, Qualcomm supplies nearly 100% of these chips. (The exception is the Apple Watch, which since the Series 4 model has used an Intel modem.) While it’s possible that Apple could be planning to use 5G modems from another supplier starting in 2023, analysts are expecting that will be the year it reveals its own, Apple-designed modem.
My take: Nobody should be surprised. Buying Intel's modem division -- and its 2,200 employees -- was a dead giveaway.