With all the bitter patent accusations and potential trials piling up, it seems only natural for Samsung’s once stable supply-chain partnership with Apple to completely dissolve at one point. According to a recent report from Korean Times, Samsung has decided that it will no longer supply LCD panels to Apple with “huge price discounts,” with plans to stop LCD shipments altogether beginning next year.
A party directly involved in the matter explained the decision by pointing to the Cupertino firm’s shrinking demand for the Korean company’s materials. According to the source, the number of panels shipped to Apple has dropped from 15 million units during 1H12 to allegedly less than 3 million units in 3Q12. For 4Q12, the prediction is that that the figure will take a further dive, and arrive at a mere 1.5 million units. While no further official explanation had been given, there is little doubt that factors such as the patent trial ruling, growing rivalry, and competitive resentment had something to do with the two companies’ dwindling ties.
The folks at Apple, meanwhile, do not appear to have trouble finding panel replacements, with LG and Sharp apparently filling these roles nicely. Interestingly, another company rumored to become Apple’s major LCD panel supplier is Panasonic. Early last week, a report from Diamond Online indicated that the Japanese company, currently struggling in the TV industry, has been showing an increasing interest in making displays for mobile products. Screen samples were reported to be given to the Cupertino company representatives, who were allegedly “satisfied” with what they saw.
Despite losing arguably its largest customer, Samsung has a good reason to be optimistic about its company’s future. The company still has a largely growing mobile device division, which, according to Korean Times and various other sources, would do well with extra LCD panels. Amazon, itself in the process of creating potentially more tablet lines, is also stated as being another reliable LCD client for Samsung.