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Cellular modem campus: Apple invests $445 million in San Diego

With the purchase of a 67-hectare campus, Apple apparently intends to massively expand its location in San Diego, southern California. A special feature with regard to the iPhone is that, according to a report in the local newspaper, work has so far been done on cell phone modem chips. Turning away from the supplier Qualcomm has long been an issue at Apple, but according to other media reports, the efforts have so far not been effective.

Around 5,000 Apple employees are expected to work at the San Diego site by 2026, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. On Tuesday, the Cupertino-based IT giant confirmed that it had acquired the seven-building Rancho Vista Corporate Center. According to the newspaper’s calculations, the purchase price due to the real estate transfer tax is 445 million US dollars. This is Apple’s first property acquisition in San Diego.

Apple has been active in research and development in Southern California since 2018. At that time, plans were presented for a center for wireless technologies, which will employ 1,200 people. So far, buildings in the university district and in the Rancho Bernado district have been rented for this purpose. The campus that has now been acquired was formerly the seat of a Hewlett Packard research laboratory. Specifically, the inkjet inkjet printers were further developed there. Apple bought the site from a San Francisco real estate company, which acquired the campus from HP in 2016.

According to the daily newspaper report, Apple is working on its own modem chips for its mobile phones in San Diego – a particularly sensitive topic for the group. Apple’s attempt to break away from equipment supplier Qualcomm and its license costs by using Intel chips failed a few years ago. After a two-year court case, both companies agreed in 2019 on a new six-year contract in which Apple pays license costs to Qualcomm and installs their modem chips in its devices. A short time later, Apple acquired Intel’s modem division for a billion US dollars, from which the chip developer wanted to part. This also includes a location in Germany.

Since then, Apple has been developing its own modem chips, apparently in secret, in order to really replace Qualcomm. There it was already expected at the end of 2021 that Apple would only buy a fraction of the previous modem chips with the iPhone in 2023. However, the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from Taiwan recently announced his assessment that Apple had missed the goals it had set itself and that its own modem chips would only come later.

It is unclear whether Apple now wants to speed up the work in San Diego with more employees. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, job ads only seek software engineers, data science professionals, and other non-hardware positions.

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