Apple vs. Qualcomm: If This Were Game Of Thrones Tim Cook Would Be Cersei Lannister     

I’ve been spending some time looking at the FTC case against Qualcomm and next week’s very similar Apple Anti-Trust case against Qualcomm. Given I’m also re-watching Game of Thrones getting ready for Season 8 pretty much back to back my head is solidly ensconced in that world as well causing me to make connections between our world and that world. Like Game of Thrones the battle between Apple and Qualcomm could be presented as one between Good and Evil, where the Evil side has vastly more resources and operates largely by making false claims that hide nefarious ends and the good side is focused on transparency and benefiting the world be it Westeros or our World. Give the Qualcomm brand contains a Dragon the temptation is to position them as Daenerys (Khaleesi) Targaryen but, I think, they are likely closer to Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen) or maybe a blend of the two.

Let me explain.

Apple’s Lannister Like Tactics

In my read of Apple’s case it presents as Apple as the underdog much like the Cersei presented the Lannister’s as the oppressed family with everyone against them. But the real motivation and goal appears to be to destroy competition so that there is only one Smartphone company in the premium tier, Apple, and they can then charge whatever they want leaving the users, the serfs, to support with taxes (extraordinarily high iPhone prices and costs) whatever Cersei (Tim Cook) wants to do.

Part of their approach is to use other companies they license from as examples of what Qualcomm should do. But given Apple’s massive market power and history of abusing even the largest of their suppliers (Andy Grove of Intel grew to hate the company) using that example is like pointing out the one slave you are beating that complains as an abusive outlier. Reminds me a bit of how they got so many folks to seemingly praise Joffrey Baratheon as a good king even though he was kind of a demon on two legs.

But the reality is Apple is vastly larger and more powerful than Qualcomm, when they pay Qualcomm the cost is well below $10 per $1,300 phone and if you look at the price delta between the iPod Touch and an iPhone (the iPod Touch is basically an iPhone with no Qualcomm technology in it) it is typically between $300 and $400. This suggests the value to Apple is in that range while the cost to Apple is below $10. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay $10 any day of the week to get $300-$400 back and this is what Apple is claiming is abusive. Kind of like Cersei Lannister complaining the Tyrell’s have too much power and then killing them all off to get their money. Yep life is unfair to Apple and the Lannisters…

Particularly in Season 7 the comparison seems powerful. Cersei publicly agrees to fight the White Walkers while scheming to stab those protecting humanity in the back. Apple is arguing that they are protecting competition when it should be obvious that what they want to do is cripple Qualcomm which is America’s best defense against 5G dominance by China. (Yes, that kind of makes China the White Walkers which means I’m not going to travel to China any time soon).

Qualcomm= Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen? (or maybe both?)

Now, like Jon Snow, Qualcomm is trying to prevent China from taking over the mobile world and dominate 5G. The distraction in fighting Apple is hurting their efforts and much like Cersei has attempted to kill off both the Starks and the Tagrarians Apple has aggressively been trying to kill off Qualcomm putting that company on the defensive. Like the Lannisters using the Boltons to take out the Starks, Apple appeared to use Broadcom to take out Qualcomm, and both efforts failed. I wonder if that makes Donald Trump Little Finger (who came to the rescue with the Knights of the Vale). (Unintentional small hands reference but I may be staying out of Washington DC for a bit).

Qualcomm’s model enables the entire Android eco-system much like John Snow has been able to pull together the North, the Wildings, and most recently looped in Daenerys Targaryen’s forces. If they win you get the sense that Westeros will be better for everyone but the White Walkers (sorry again China).

While Qualcomm isn’t preserving life over death in people, they are kind of preserving life over death for those of us that want Smartphone choices other than Apple or a personal communications market dominated by China. Communications is increasingly the life blood of our business and personal interests so having it subsumed by either Apple or China wouldn’t be good for us long term much like Westeros being ruled by the Lannisters or especially White Walkers would be less than ideal.

Wrapping Up: Both Tim Cook And Cersei Lannister Are Thinking Tactically

Now if you think about how Game of Thrones could play out, Cersei Lannister betrays Daenerys Targaryen and John Snow and wins but then is killed by the then largely unopposed and unstoppable White Walkers. Should Tim Cook prevail yes, he’ll badly hurt competition but it will open Apple up to their own Anti-Trust issues and they are in no position to offset China pretty much assuring China and Huawei own the future of world wide communications. Just as Cersei is unwittingly helping the White Walkers, Apple is unwittingly helping China resulting in outcomes far worse than what either is attempting to avoid near term.

Now I’ll grant you I did stretch a lot to make these comparisons, but they should have been impossible and weren’t. Granted given we pull ideas for our fictional books, TV Shows, and movies from real like parallels do occur pretty often. But this one really seemed way too obvious to me resulting in the hope that, regardless of anything else, I continue to hope both Tim Cook and Cersei Lannister have a moment like this one from Game of Thrones in the coming trial (in this instance Arya Stark would be Qualcomm and Apple would be Little Finger). Now to be clear I’m speaking metaphorically and not suggesting Apple should have the same end.

One final thing, in both cases I think it would be best if the leader with the Dragons win. What do you think? Fingers crossed that Season 8 knocks all our socks off and that our Smartphone market continues to be full of choices. For the night is dark and full of terrors

Damn I can hardly wait till Sunday