Apple iPhone Could Get Help From Qualcomm Ban - InformationWeek

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Apple iPhone Could Get Help From Qualcomm Ban

An international limit on Qualcomm's technology could benefit Apple, because some of the advanced phones impacted by the ban were expected to compete directly with the iPhone.

Apple's iPhone, which is scheduled for release at the end of the month, could benefit from a U.S. ban on the importation of Qualcomm chips that would have been used in the mobile phones of competitors, a market research firm said Friday.

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Thursday issued a partial ban on new Qualcomm chips used in advanced cellular phones that connect to wireless carriers' 3G, high-speed data networks. The ban followed an ITC and federal court ruling that Qualcomm had infringed on patents held by rival Broadcom.

The ITC order could benefit Apple, because some of the advanced phones impacted by the ban were expected to compete directly with the iPhone, set to ship June 29, iSuppli said.

"This could create challenges for carriers planning to offer these phones, while boosting the outlook for AT&T, which will sell the iPhone in the United States." AT&T is the exclusive seller of the iPhone among U.S. carriers.

Overall, however, the decision is expected to only have a limited impact on the global wireless communications industry in the short term, iSuppli said. The ban is expected to impact 4.2 million shipments of phones in 2007, which represents only 4.4% of North American shipments in the second half of the year, and just 3.2% of worldwide 3G handsets.

Only 11 mobile-phone models would be affected by the ban, representing less than 1% of new phone model introductions for the year, the research firm said. The handset manufacturers affected the most are Samsung Electronics, which is No. 3 in the market; fifth-ranked LG Electronics, and second-placed Motorola.

The ban is not expected to lower overall shipments this year because carriers are expected to offer existing 3G handsets to subscribers. Instead, the average selling price for carriers will be lower, since they'll be forced to sell aging models at lower prices, rather than more expensive new models, iSuppli said.

Qualcomm has said it would fight the ban, and ask the U.S. Court of Appeals to stay enforcement of the ITC order. The company also said it would appeal to President Bush to veto the decision. Qualcomm and Broadcom have been locked in patent acrimony for months. The competitors started filing patent suits against each other after failing to reach a licensing agreement.

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