Monday, January 14, 2019

Wired - The FTC Thinks You Pay Too Much For Smartphones. Here’s Why

In Wired, The FTC Thinks You Pay Too Much For Smartphones. Here’s Why, FTC is investigating if Qualcomm has committed an antitrust violation (a "tax" on cell phones that drives up prices and hurts competition) in demanding 5% of the value of a cell phone up to $20 max for licensing its patented wireless technology to Apple and Huawei.

From the article:

"Qualcomm charges companies like Apple a set percentage of the total price of a phone in exchange for the right to use its technology, according to the antitrust suit filed by the FTC. The percentages vary, but Qualcomm generally charges 5 percent of the value of a device, up to a maximum of about $20 per device, according to a legal brief filed by Qualcomm. Phone makers like Apple and Huawei argue that Qualcomm demands a larger cut of each phone sale than is fair, but that they pay because Qualcomm essentially threatens to cut off their supply of important wireless chips if they don’t. The FTC describes this as a "tax" on cellular phones that drives up prices and hurts competition.

In court Friday, Apple executive Tony Blevins accused the chipmaker of strong-arm tactics. Blevins said that during negotiations in 2013, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon told him, "I'm your only choice, and I know Apple can afford to pay it,” CNET reports."

It appears Apple was able to buy its replacement chips from its second source Intel but incurred some delays as it scrambled to integrate the Intel chips to cover for Qualcomm's refusal to reduce its price. It sounds like the mobile computing patent wars have resumed.

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