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Qualcomm lowers revenue forecasts as Apple squeezes its best customers

Chipmaker Qualcomm on Wednesday revised its revenue forecast downward for 2015, lopping nearly $1 billion off of its high-end estimate and seemingly blaming the change in part on Apple's annexation of market share with the iPhone 6.

Despite booking record revenues for the just-completed quarter, Qualcomm dropped its top-end sales forecast for the rest of the year from $28.8 billion to $28 billion. In its earnings release, the company said this was caused primarily by a "shift in share among OEMs at the premium tier" which has reduced demand for its Snapdragon processors.

That appears to be a thinly-veiled reference to Apple, which has wrenched sales from rival Samsung —  one of Qualcomm's largest customers — following the release of the larger-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The 74.5 million iPhones Apple sold over the holidays were good for half of all mobile phone activations in the U.S. during that time, research suggests.

The iPhone is also grabbing share in China, an important market for Samsung, though one where the company typically ships devices using its in-house Exynos chips. Apple is believed to have sold more smartphones in the Asian nation than any other company in the fourth quarter.

Adding insult to injury, Qualcomm also appears to have lost the contract for Samsung's forthcoming Galaxy S6 as overheating issues plagued preproduction devices. The company expects that its Snapdragon 810, a 64-bit part designed to compete with Apple's A-series, "will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer's flagship device," likely referring to the S6.

The news could be even more bleak for Qualcomm in the future as Apple has been rumored to be considering moving away from the company's baseband chips, which are found in every iPhone. Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted earlier this month that Intel would win at least part of Apple's baseband business in 2016.