Apple Inc. is hiring engineers for a new office in Southern California that will focus on developing wireless chips that could someday replace Broadcom Inc. and Skyworks Solutions Inc. components.
In Irvine, where Broadcom, Skyworks, and other companies have offices, the company is looking for a few dozen workers to work on wireless chips. Apple is looking for people with experience in modem chips and other wireless semiconductors, according to recent job postings.
It’s part of a larger plan to open satellite offices across the country, allowing the tech giant to target technical hotbeds and attract individuals who might not want to work in Silicon Valley. The strategy has also aided Apple’s objective of producing more of its own components.
After Bloomberg reported on the attempt, shares of wireless chip makers fell. Skyworks’ stock dropped as much as 11% in one day, its worst intraday plunge since March 2020. Broadcom and Qualcomm Inc. both dropped more than 4%.
Apple’s interest to hire personnel with expertise in a specific area is usually bad news for existing vendors. The company has been emphasizing the value of its in-house chip designs in making its products stand out. The industry’s biggest company, Intel Corp., has joined a growing list of chipmakers who have lost control over Apple devices.
In 2018, Apple began hiring engineers in Qualcomm’s hometown, San Diego. Apple chip chief Johny Srouji informed staff two years later that the business is working on its own cellular modem to eventually replace Qualcomm’s.
Apple’s Irvine push was met with silence from an Apple spokesman. Broadcom and Skyworks representatives did not reply to requests for comment.
The Irvine expansion is still in its early phases, and Apple intends to progressively expand its presence. The company’s overall return-to-work plans are still being sorted out. Apple has postponed its February 1 deadline for corporate employees to return to in-person employment.
However, Apple’s hiring in Irvine is the latest evidence that the company is bringing more technology in-house. Wireless radios, radio-frequency integrated circuits, and a wireless system-on-a-chip, or SoC, will be the focus of the engineers. They’ll also work on semiconductors for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Broadcom, Skyworks, and Qualcomm are now providing all of these components to Apple.
The project draws on Apple’s previous wireless chip development. Apple’s latest iPhones contain U1 ultra-wideband chips for more accurately pinpointing their location and communicating with the AirTag accessory and other accesories, and the AirPods and Apple Watch already include unique components that allow them to pair with devices.
Apple’s growing wireless silicon development team is developing the next generation of wireless silicon! one job listing says. Another says employees will be at the center of a wireless SoC design group with a critical impact on getting Apple’s state-of-the-art wireless connectivity solutions into hundreds of millions of products.