Apple poaches a Samsung executive to help lead its own battery work

Apple has reportedly poached an executive from Samsung SDI, Samsung Electronics’ battery-making affiliate, to help lead its own battery work.

Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman and Sam Kim have the story:

Soonho Ahn joined Apple in December as global head of battery developments, after working as a senior vice president at Samsung SDI since 2015, per his LinkedIn profile.

At Samsung SDI, Ahn led development of lithium battery packs and worked on ‘next-generation’ battery technology, the profile says.

The hire suggests potential battery advances and a continuation of Apple’s years-long strategy that calls for reduced reliance on third-party components.

Both Samsung SDI and Apple have also been in talks to secure sources of cobalt, which is a key component of battery packs, directly from miners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The area is responsible for more than half of the world’s cobalt.

Samsung Electronics is the largest shareholder of Samsung SDI and its biggest customer but the firm sells its batteries to other clients, too. Samsung SDI received bad press following a 2017 discovery that it made the original battery in Samsung’s exploding Note 7. 

And independent investigation discovered that the Note 7 battery was irregularly sized and had a flaw in the upper right corner that could cause a short circuit.

Apple has used batteries from Samsung SDI in the past.