Apple’s supply chain relationships: ‘It’s complicated’

Written by Barbara Jorgensen for EPS News – Component makers’ relationship with Apple – which reached $1 trillion in market cap in early August – is, in short, complicated. Winning a socket in any Apple design automatically bestows bragging rights and the possibility of a longtime, lucrative relationship on suppliers. Yet the businesses that support Apple’s endeavors are oddly silent about their marquee customer.

“We prefer not to discuss our relationships with customers,” said three suppliers contacted for this article. “We [designed a component] for Apple but we aren’t able to talk about it,” said another. A half-dozen other inquiries were not answered at all.

Strategy designed exclusively to benefit Apple

Apple’s paranoia about protecting its hardware designs is legendary; a vow of silence is only one rule governing Apple’s supply chain. Suppliers are required to continually reduce costs; provide information normally not disclosed to customers; and prepare to be designed-out of an iProduct without any prior notice. Apple has the power to make or break a supplier.

Display manufacturers have been on the Apple rollercoaster for years. In 2011, Apple was expected to invest $1 billion in a Sharp LCD factory to ensure adequate production of screens for its iPhone and iPad. After stumbling financially for years, Sharp was acquired by Apple’s largest manufacturing partner Foxconn in 2016. Leading display manufacturers Samsung and LG Display have fallen in and out of Apple’s favor over the years (they’re now back in.)… Full article