It seems Qualcomm is reportedly planning to try and stop the importation of iPhone units from China to the US by Apple. The information comes from a report out of Bloomberg which in turn credits “a person familiar with the company’s strategy” for the details. According to those details, Qualcomm will seek to obtain an outright ban by the International Trade Commission (ITC).
While not confirmed, this is understood to be the latest move by Qualcomm in what is not only a continuing battle between Qualcomm and Apple, but also an escalating one. Apple had originally filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm over what it claimed to be ‘unfair tactics’ in relation to its licensing agreements. A move which was followed by Qualcomm counter-suing Apple. Since then, it is been reported that Apple has been withholding royalty payments to Qualcomm, which in turn led to Qualcomm reducing its revenue outlook. Now, as a means to bring a close to the situation (one way or the other) Qualcomm could be looking to apply pressure to Apple through this ban.
Of course timing is also a factor here as Apple is preparing to release its next-generation iPhone soon, and if Qualcomm was planning on initiating such a move, then it would likely want to have any successful action in place before the next iPhone does come to market. However, whether Qualcomm will be able to have such a ban granted remains to be seen. Although, if Apple is indeed holding back owed royalties and by doing so, is in breach of its licensing agreements with various Qualcomm licensees, then this presumably would provide grounds for such a request to, and have action taken by, the ITC. In either case, what is clear is that Apple has just recently announced a decrease in year-over-year sales for the iPhone line and if Qualcomm was successful in enacting a blanket ban on US imports of the smartphone, it would certainly lead to significant decrease in global sales for Apple, with the US understood to occupy the lion’s share of iPhone sales. Although by the same token, if Apple continues to withhold licensing payments to Qualcomm, while selling its latest version, then it would be Qualcomm who would likely continue to decrease its revenue outlook. Which highlights just how serious the issue is now becoming for both parties involved.