Intel is a major supplier of 4G and soon 5G modems to smartphone OEMs around the world (including Apple), although currently Intel’s share of the modem market in less than 10 percent. It competes with a number of other suppliers, most notably Qualcomm who has the majority share of modems in high to mid tier smartphones (Qualcomm’s share is estimated at approximately 50 percent of the overall market), as well as MediaTek and other Far East suppliers.
As the 5G revolution approaches (I expect widespread deployments achieving critical mass in 2020–2021) it’s important to look at who some of the chip vendor winners will be. While competitive, it’s likely that the modem market will remain difficult for anyone competing against Qualcomm, Intel included. Qualcomm’s high performance Snapdragon chips are dominant in the mid to high end of the smartphone market. And the fact that Qualcomm tightly couples its modem capabilities with its Snapdragon chips gives it a competitive advantage. But that’s not the whole story in who wins supplying chips to 5G.