Are you eagerly anticipating this year's new iPhones? Rumor has it that we will see three separate iPhone models in 2017 - two "s" models of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and a third premium version that will have all the wow and whiz-bang innovations (we'll refer to this premium model as the iPhone 8 for now).
We don't blame you. The Apple grapevine can be a labyrinth of conflicting reports. The iPhone 8's release date, for example, is still up in the air.
Some are saying it be unveiled in June at the WWDC and go on sale in September while some reports are saying that due to manufacturing issues, we won't even see the iPhone 8 until 2018! Imagine that.
But what if there won't be any iPhones in the U.S. at all this year?
No iPhone 7s, no iPhone 7s Plus, no iPhone 8. As nightmarish as this sounds for the Apple fan, there's actually a possibility that this will happen if one former Apple partner gets its way.
Apple versus Qualcomm
Chipmaker Qualcomm is planning to ask a U.S. agency to ban the import of iPhones to the U.S. This is said to be in retaliation for Apple's recent decision in late April to stop licensing payments to Qualcomm.
Qualcomm is the world's biggest supplier of mobile chips and it holds patents for 3G and 4G technologies that are required for smartphones to operate. In turn, all mobile phone manufacturers are required to pay licensing fees to Qualcomm, regardless of whether they use their chips or not. These licensing fees are also based off the phone's price.
In a lawsuit filed against Qualcomm, Apple claims that this current system is unfair and "Qualcomm is charging for technologies they have nothing to do with." For example, although Apple has started using 4G chips from Intel, the company still has to pay Qualcomm licensing fees because the Intel chips use some of Qualcomm's patents.
Apple pays these licensing fees not directly to Qualcomm but through its iPhone manufacturing partners like Foxconn. Due to the lawsuit, the iPhone maker has stopped paying any licensing royalties pertaining to Qualcomm's intellectual properties until the dispute is resolved.
To counter this, Qualcomm may request the International Trade Commission to stop current and upcoming models of the iPhones, which are built in China, from entering the U.S., according to a Bloomberg report.
Additionally, in a counterclaim against the Apple lawsuit, Qualcomm claims that Apple didn't use the full potential of its iPhone 7 chips to "prevent consumers from realizing that iPhones containing Qualcomm chipsets performed far better than iPhones containing chipsets supplied by Intel."
If the ITC grants Qualcomm's request, it could prevent the sale of all iPhones in the U.S. market, ruining the debut of the rumored iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus and the iPhone 8, slated for this year. It can also mean an importation ban for older and current iPhone models.
This could spell disaster for Apple since the iPhone's U.S. market total account for 40 percent of Apple's overall sales. Bloomberg also reported that Qualcomm is planning to request for a wider global iPhone ban and it's already testing courts in the U.K., Germany and even China.
We may not see the end of this Apple and Qualcomm tussle soon but we also think that it is unlikely that a U.S. iPhone ban will be put in effect, given Apple's influence and clout.
At this point, though, both companies are not willing to settle and are letting the courts decide so only time will tell.
What do you think? Is a U.S. iPhone ban even possible? Drop us a comment!