Qualcomm and Apple — perhaps the closest the technology sector has to corporate “frenemies” — are “on the doorstep” of resolving their ongoing issues, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf told CNBC on Wednesday.
“We do talk as companies,” the CEO told Jim Cramer in an exclusive interview on “Mad Money.”
Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in legal battles in recent weeks, with Apple accusing Qualcomm of illegally demanding a cut of each iPhone and Qualcomm accusing Apple of illegally stealing and bartering its trade secrets. Their formal disputes go back to early 2017.
Mollenkopf attributed the back-and-forth to “activities that are consistent with” what he called “the fourth quarter of the game, and not the first quarter.”
“We’ve always talked about — I’ve been very consistent — that … the second half of this year and into next year is when we’re really on the doorstep of finding a resolution and we don’t see anything different than that,” the CEO said.
Qualcomm, a semiconductor and telecommunications equipment provider, once worked closely with Apple, partnering with the iPhone maker on the tech found within its products.
But even though relations have cooled amid the lawsuits, Mollenkopf had a positive outlook on future of the tech giants’ relationship, particularly with the cellular industry on the cusp of 5G adoption.
“I think there’s always an opportunity and a risk when you have these big G transitions, or the generations of wireless change,” he told Cramer. “It’s the opportunity to either be left behind or to make sure that you’re part of that new generation. Of course, we work with everybody. We would love to work with Apple.”
Mollenkopf cast 5G, which he predicts will roll out starting in the spring of 2019, as Qualcomm’s central focus and touted its “tremendous benefits” to the cellular industry and the wider internet of things.
“We think the people that move quickly to these new generations, they tend to win, if you look at the history of what’s happened to the Motorolas and the Blackberrys,” he said in a veiled nod to Apple’s early years of success. “The people that made, that embrace the new technology do the best. Of course, we try to provide that to everybody and there’s an opportunity there with every [original equipment manufacturer].”
When Cramer jokingly said he wanted an Apple iPhone equipped with 5G “with Qualcomm in it,” Mollenkopf’s response was succinct: “We do, too.”