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Apple could be set to buy Broadcom's RF wireless chip outfit

iFixit teardown
iFixit teardown (Image credit: iFixit)

What you need to know

  • Apple already uses Broadcom chips.
  • Broadcom reportedly wants to offload its RF chip business.
  • Apple is one company said to be interested.

Broadcom reportedly wants rid of its RF wireless chip business despite it having brought $2.2 billion into the company during the fiscal 2019 year. And Apple is said to be looking into picking it up.

That, according to The Wall Street Journal (via 9to5Mac) would need a transaction in the ballpark of $10 billion and although the process is said to be at an "early stage," Apple is unlikely to balk at the sum.

Broadcom's RF unit is thought to be one of the best in the business in terms or making hardware that can help clear up wireless signals. And it doesn't take an expert in phone manufacturing to see where that could be of use to Apple.

The RF unit is a market leader in so-called FBARs—film bulk acoustic resonators—that are used in cellphones and base stations to filter out unwanted radio transmissions. But in recent years it has faced increased competition. One rival, Qorvo Inc., has developed an alternative filtering technology that's tiny, reliable and can replace traditional FBARs.

Apple currently uses Broadcom for wireless chips and is said to account for as much as 25% of the company's net revenue. Whether Apple would splash the cash to pick the business up for itself remains to be seen, but it's also unlikley to be the only suitor here. Especially given the strength of the business.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.