I regularly keep tabs on the Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) section of a website called TheLayoff.com. The site's intended use is for current and former employees of a company to talk about potential layoff activity happening at that company.
To be clear, the signal-to-noise ratio on TheLayoff's boards can be poor, especially as it appears that shareholders of competing companies sometimes appear to try to "troll" participants of the board.
Nevertheless, while it's important to be highly skeptical of anything posted on such boards, sometimes there are posts cogent enough to merit further investigation.
With that out of the way, let's look at a rumor that's cropped up on the Intel board at TheLayoff.com -- that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) won't be using Intel's upcoming XMM 7560 cellular modem for the 2018 iPhone.
A corollary -- if it's true -- would be that Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), which had long been Apple's sole modem supplier until Intel captured share with the iPhone 7, would recapture iPhone modem share with the launch of the 2018 iPhone.
Here's the rumor
"So apparently, Apple has no intention of using XMM7560 next year," the post begins. "Rumor from several sides is that they were supposed to sign an MoU regarding XMM7560 last year, but that signing kept being postponed."
An "MoU" is a memorandum of understanding, which Investopedia defines as "a nonbinding agreement between two or more parties outlining the terms and details of an understanding, including each parties' requirements and responsibilities."
The post continues by saying that "Apple has flat-out stated that they are not going to sign it until Intel has proven that the platform will [fulfill] all KPIs -- which is completely impossible."
In this case, KPI stands for key performance indicator, which Klipfolio.com defines as "a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives."
Finally, the post says that "Apple has stated that they have plans for a possible 2018 iPhone without [an] Intel modem, and they are quoted as saying 'It's no longer our Plan B, it's our plan A' now."
Another poster, in response to this commentary, replied, "[T]hat is not even new information. Ship captain gave that info to core team in project meeting two weeks ago."
Is this rumor credible?
Here's my big problem with this rumor. Back at Intel's investor meeting in February, company management appeared to have a high degree of confidence that it would be shipping high volumes of its XMM 7560 cellular modem in 2018.
Now, of course, Intel's disclaimer clearly applies here, in that it is a "forward-looking statement" that "involve[s] a number of risks and uncertainties," so it could very well be the case that Intel thought it was on track to land a significant chunk of Apple's 2018 iPhone modem orders but ultimately isn't meeting key development milestones.
That said, without supporting evidence from a more reputable or non-anonymous source -- think Bloomberg, Reuters, or KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo -- I'm not inclined to put a ton of faith in this rumor.
What I will be doing, though, is keeping my eyes peeled for reports from those reputable sources and publications for any news related to Apple's modem choice for the 2018 iPhone.