U.S. semiconductor company Qualcomm has terminated its partnership with satellite communications provider Iridium for the provision of satellite-to-phone services. Iridium made the announcement, stating that although the technology was successfully developed and demonstrated, smartphone manufacturers have not integrated it into their devices. Consequently, Qualcomm decided to end the agreement. The termination of this partnership comes at a time when major players are actively pursuing the emerging market of connecting unmodified phones directly to satellites.
This move by Qualcomm has had an immediate impact on Iridium’s stock, causing it to drop by over 8% in after-hours trading. While Qualcomm has not yet provided a comment regarding the termination, Iridium stated that they will now have the opportunity to engage with other partners who are working on satellite-to-cell projects. The termination of the agreement with Qualcomm is not expected to affect Iridium’s financial guidance for the full year of 2023.
The market for connecting unmodified phones to satellites is gaining traction, with various companies and service providers entering into partnerships and collaborations. Some notable players in this space include Apple, SpaceX, AT&T, T-Mobile, and AST SpaceMobile. Apple, in particular, has invested heavily in its “Emergency SOS with Satellite” service, which was introduced with the iPhone 14 models.
In conclusion, while the Qualcomm-Iridium partnership did not produce immediate results, Iridium remains optimistic about the future of satellite connectivity in consumer devices. They believe that the industry is moving towards increased satellite connectivity, and the termination of their agreement with Qualcomm will allow them to explore other opportunities in this growing market.