In another hint of Apple distancing itself from Samsung by procuring crucial gadget components from alternative suppliers, we hear the Cupertino firm may have already dropped Samsung entirely as the maker of next-gen panels for a fifth-generation iPad and a second-generation iPad mini.
Both devices are rumored to arrive later this year, allegedly sporting the high-resolution Retina display technology and sharing a light aluminum chassis with thinner appearance and chamfered edges…
Seoul-based Korea Economic Daily cites industry reports claiming Apple sent out its requests for quotation for new Retina screens to LG Display, Sharp, Japan Display and AU Optronics, but not to Samsung Display.
In case you didn’t know, a request for quotation is a document firms like Apple send to component suppliers. In it, the buyer (Apple) inquires about prices quotations for specified components and parts.
As this document is usually sent five-ten months prior to a product’s launch (to give suppliers ample time to deliver the order), it’s the first step of the component purchase process and as such a credible hint of the upcoming changes in Apple’s manufacturing process.
On the other hand, iNews, South Korea’s tech news site, mentions that Samsung and Apple have not yet begun the separation process on mobile screens.
The publication quotes Samsung president Kim Ki-nam as saying the rumor is “not necessarily true.” Interestingly enough, the guy added that a possibility of Apple adopting Samsung components still exists, though I’d bet my shirt that was just his wishful thinking.
Samsung’s acquisition of a three percent stake in Apple’s screen supplier Sharp was probably the last straw.
Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn has been trying to buy eleven percent of Sharp for months, but has cancelled all acquisition talks after learning about Sharp going to bed with Samsung.
The fact that Sharp has now begun shipping its 32-inch panels to Samsung certainly won’t help improve the rocky Apple-Samsung relationship. What’s more, thanks to Samsung’s LCD panel orders, Sharp is now expected to turn an operating profit by the end of its fiscal 2012, which concludes on March 31.
According to market research firm DisplaySearch, LG Display accounted for 28 percent of the global LCD sales versus Samsung Display’s 25.1 percent share, the first time LG Display surpassed Samsung in the LCD market since 2005.
DisplaySearch also estimates Samsung’s display supplies have decreased from 12.8 percent of the total supplied to Apple in the second quarter of 2012 to just 0.90 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Apple is also said to have decreased the proportion of Samsung’s supply of SSDs for MacBooks this year.
And IHS iSuppli, another credible market research firm, yesterday acknowledged an 81 percent drop in 9.7-inch panel shipments in January. At the same time, panels measuring 7.9 inches diagonally, like the one used on the iPad mini, climbed fourteen percent.
It’s another proof that the iPad mini is outselling its bigger brother faster than Apple anticipated.
As for Apple’s chip making contract with Samsung, it’s set to expire in June 2014 – conveniently coinciding with talk of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (and possibly Intel) starting to fab Apple’s next-generation iPhone and iPad processors early next year.
TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor foundry, in particular, is expected to tape out Apple’s A7 processor on a 20nm process later this month, possibly moving the chip into risk production in May-June.
If true, this would pave the way for commercial shipments of the TSMC-made A7 chip some time in the first quarter of 2014.