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Rumors of Qualcomm-Apple iPhone deal persist


Apple and chip maker Qualcomm are said to currently be in talks for a future deal, fueling rumors of a possible 2010 iPhone arrangement that have surfaced in recent weeks.

Citing "market sources," Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes reported Monday that Qualcomm is in talks with Apple "for interest in future cooperation." The report said that Qualcomm is concerned about its future as popular smartphones, including the iPhone, do not utilize its 3G handset chips. Fierce competition has allegedly "pressured" the chip maker into looking to make a deal with Apple.

Currently, Qualcomm supplies chips to Samsung and LG in Korea, and HTC in Taiwan. But the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Palm Pre do not rely on the company.

The iPhone currently utilizes an Infineon chipset for its GSM and 3G networking. Palm uses chips from Marvell, while RIM contracts with Freescale.

In November, two separate reports indicated that a Qualcomm-powered iPhone was in the works. One suggested the device would use a new hybrid chip created by the company to allow dual compatibility with both the AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S.

However, another analyst said that although he has heard that a Qualcomm deal is in discussion, a dual-mode iPhone would be impossible to release in 2010, as it is not currently in field trials. Such a handset was predicted to arrive in 2011 at the earliest.

However, CMDA inventor Qualcomm has announced that it plans to release dual-carrier chips that would enable future phones to work on both CDMA/EVDO carriers like Verizon and Sprint, as well as rival 3GPP carriers that use UMTS/HSPA+ technology like AT&T and T-Mobile. The new chips also provide future support for LTE, the next-generation 3GPP standard that most carriers plan to begin testing for deployment globally in the next few years.

Analyst Ashok Kumar with Northeast Securities, recently told AppleInsider he believes that Verizon and Apple would like to release a CDMA handset at a contract-subsidized $99 price point, which would make the new dual-mode chip cost prohibitive. Qualcomm expects commercial launches of handsets based on its dual-mode chip to be introduced in the second half of 2010.