Apple CEO Tim Cook believes Qualcomm has been acting like a shady furniture dealer.
Cook took a shot at Qualcomm, one of the main chip suppliers for the iPhone, during its quarterly earnings call on Tuesday when an analyst asked about the legal fight the two companies are embroiled in.
Apple sued the chipmaker earlier this month, accusing it of withholding $1 billion in rebates it owed Apple, and alleging that Qualcomm charges Apple “at least five times more in” royalty payments than all of Apple’s other patent licensors combined.
“We didn’t see another way forward. They were insisting on charging royalties for technologies that they had nothing to do with,” Cook said on Tuesday, repeating many of the talking points that Apple trotted out when it first sued Qualcomm.
But then, in a seemingly extemporaneous rhetorical flourish, Cook came up with a domestic analogy to drive home the point:
“It’s somewhat like buying a sofa and you charge somebody a different price depending upon the house that it goes into,” he said.
The idea, Cook suggests, is that Qualcomm is charging a higher licensing fee for the wireless chips that go into iPhones than it does when the chips are featured in other products.
A sofa vendor that sells the same couch at different rates would surely raise eyebrows.
But to some observers, a better analogy that Cook might have made was not home furniture vendors but pharmaceutical companies: