Everything to Know About Apple’s Big iPhone Profits and a Big Potential Acquisition
As the end of 2019 approaches, news reports about Apple’s plans for 2020 and beyond are going strong.
Over the past week, an analyst said Apple may acquire one of Broadcom’s wireless chip businesses so it can use the chips in iPhones to filter out unwanted wireless signals that can interfere with calls, Wi-Fi signals, or other communication.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week published a patent filing from Apple that suggests the company may add a fingerprint sensor to iPhone and Mac screens that can verify a person’s identity when they log in. Samsung already uses in-screen sensors in its Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 smartphones.
Speaking of smartphones, Counterpoint Research revealed this week that Apple dominates all rivals by collecting two-thirds of all smartphone industry profits.
It’s been a busy week in Apple headlines. Read on to find out why:
iPhone profits pour in
Apple collected two-thirds of the smartphone industry’s $12 billion in third-quarter profits, according to Counterpoint Research. Samsung trailed with 17% while several China-based smartphone makers, including Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo collected the rest.
Child labor lawsuit
International Rights Advocates, a human rights advocacy group, filed a lawsuit this week against Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Google-parent Alphabet, and Dell for allegedly profiting off child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The complaint, filed on behalf of 14 unnamed plaintiffs, centers on child labor in cobalt mines in the DRC. Cobalt is a critical component in lithium-ion batteries that are used in everything from smartphones to computers. And while the accused companies all have policies against child labor, the lawsuit alleges that they’ve sourced cobalt mined by child labor. Fortune requested comment from all five companies named in the lawsuit, and four didn’t respond. A Dell spokesperson, however, told Fortune that the company has “never knowingly sourced operations using any form of involuntary labor, fraudulent recruiting practices, or child labor.”
A new Touch ID
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this week published an Apple patent for a new in-display fingerprint-sensing technology. According to the patent, the technology would sit under a device’s screen and be capable of reading a person’s fingerprint when a finger is placed on the display. Samsung already uses in-display fingerprint sensors in its Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10. Whether Apple will actually include the technology in its devices is unclear.
Apple sets sights on Broadcom
Broadcom is looking to sell its RF wireless chip business for as much as $10 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. The chips can help mobile devices filter out unwanted wireless signals. In a tweet this week, Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin said Apple, which is Broadcom’s biggest customer, accounting for 25% of its wireless chip business, is a likely bidder. Apple wants to expand the number of iPhone components it manufactures itself to increase its profits on each device it sells. Of course, with nearly a quarter-trillion dollars on hand, Apple has more than enough money to pay for Broadcom’s chip business. Neither Apple nor Broadcom, however, have commented on whether they’re considering a deal.
An iPhone theft problem?
Apple is investigating allegations that people working at one of its manufacturing facilities in China stole defective iPhone parts and gave them to a crime ring that reassembled them into fake iPhones that they then sold on the open market, according to Taiwan News. According to the report, the defective parts should have been destroyed, but they were instead stolen and used. The crime ring has made $43 million over the past three years through its illicit sales, according to the report.
Apple looks to space
Apple is considering using satellites to beam data to iPhones, Bloomberg reports. The move would allow Apple to circumvent carrier networks to send software updates. The report doesn’t say why Apple believes direct access to consumers would be superior to using carrier networks, but the company did say that it doesn’t anticipate switching to satellites for at least five years. It has, however, already begun investigating a switch.
One more thing…
If you know a thing or two about security and want to make a few bucks, Apple could use some help. It has opened bug bounty program, which pays people to find bugs and security problems in its products, available to anyone. Apple released a chart detailing how much it would pay bounty hunters based on the seriousness of the security problem they find. The top reward is $1 million for identifying a flaw that can cause an attack on its network that affects users who become victims without ever clicking on something.
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