So here is the storyline about how Apple is supposedly behind the Broadcom takeover attempt. I have pieced this together from various watercooler conversations and chats with people inside and outside of Q. By now, it sounds plausible enough to me to not be a crazy conspiracy theory.
The situation: Apple has a supplier (i.e. us) that they are not happy with for various reasons, the most important being the supplier‘s licensing model. So Apple looks into various options to change the relationship with that supplier or to get rid of that supplier altogether. One outcome of this was the strategy to second source the modem from Intel, but obviously that was not enough, given Q‘s technological advances.
The solution: Apple realized that they have another supplier (i.e. Broadcom) with whom they have a good relationship, who would be powerful enough to take over Q, who is known for an aggressive growth and acquisition strategy and who has also had some legal problems with Q before.
The win-win: To make the whole thing worthwhile for Broadcom, Apple promises them an exclusive supplier relationship for, say, five years. So after Broadcom takes over Q, Intel gets the boot and in return, Broadcom switches Apple over to a „friendlier“ licensing model. Being a guaranteed exclusive supplier not just for the modem but also for various other parts of the iDevices is basically Broadcom‘s life insurance. It allows them to take over Q even if it means they have to accumulate some debt in the process, because there is a safe source of revenue for several years. Otherwise, this would be a huge risk.
The strategy: Apple withholds license payments and drags Q into litigation that puts pressure on the stock price, making the company an easier target for the Broadcom takeover bid. Q obviously fights back, but when things look difficult for Broadcom, the news spreads that Mediatek might replace Q in Apple products. Of course, we all know that is not going to happen, but once again, it puts pressure on the stock price. This kind of thing will go on now until Broadcom finalizes the deal, getting Q at a true bargain price.
Some additional random ideas I got from several people:
Once layoffs start after the acquisition, Broadcom could bend over for Apple in eliminating some Q people who are not very popular with Apple. Apparently, there are at least two Q people who Apple explicitly requested to be removed from DRI roles, and Q refused. After an acquisition, they could be first to go. Seems far-fetched to me, but I think Broadcom would generally be more Apple-friendly, so who knows.
I heard a rumor from several sources that a couple of years ago, Apple broached the subject of Intel possibly acquiring Q in management meetings with Intel. The whole idea never got past the drawing board stage, because it became obvious quickly that this would be a regulatory nightmare. A Broadcom acquisition plan doesn‘t carry such huge regulatory risks, so it ended up being the more logical choice.
The one thing I am wondering now is whether it would actually be legal for Apple to work behind the scenes with Broadcom in such a way. Beyond that question, the story makes complete sense to me.