Instead, the agency blames Qualcomm, which owns key wireless-technology patents and makes chips that can be can be found in most high-end Android phones and many iPhones.
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.
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.
Blevins also said that Apple had considered using Intel chips in the iPad Mini 2, but squashed the idea when Qualcomm in 2013 offered a discount for using its chips exclusively.
Mollenkopf also confirmed that Qualcomm does require companies that buy its chips to also license its patents, which is unusual for a chip maker.
Qualcomm argued in its pre-trial brief that it doesn’t factor the price of its intellectual property into its chips, which is why it charges a separate patent royalty.
The FTC sued Qualcomm for antitrust violations in 2017, but the case only reached trial this week.
Qualcomm says that it faces more competition in the chip market than ever, and in its legal brief cites a 34 percent drop in the average smartphone price between 2010 and 2017 as evidence that it hasn’t harmed competition.
Qualcomm also says its market share has declined in the past year as new competitors like Intel, MediaTek, and Samsung have gained ground in the wireless chip business.
LEARN MOREThe WIRED Guide to 5GThat may be the company’s best defense, says David Reichenberg, an antitrust litigator at Cozen O’Connor, who says Qualcomm should try to rebut the FTC’s argument that phone prices are too high and that innovation has been harmed.
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