There is one way to assure that your supply chain is not impacted by the upcoming trade wars: bring all your manufacturing to the host nation and no longer rely on foreign suppliers.
That’s precisely what Apple appears to be doing because in a move that may cause a dramatic shake-up among the key vendors to the world’s biggest company, Bloomberg reports that Apple is designing and producing its own device displays for the first time, using a secret manufacturing facility near its Cupertino headquarter to make small numbers of the screens for testing purposes; if successful the numbers will grow far bigger.
In the latest indication that Tim Cook wants to eliminate any supply bottlenecks, and really, any suppliers – recall the historic crash of Dialog Semi which plunged the most in 16 years after a report that Apple would bring its power-management chip production in house – the tech giant is making a significant investment in the development of next-generation MicroLED screens, according to Bloomnerg sources. MicroLED screens use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and promise to make future gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry.
Since MicroLED screens are more difficult to produce than OLED displays, not to mention expensive, the company almost killed the project a year or so ago, but since then engineers have been making progress and the technology is now at an advanced stage, though consumers will probably have to wait a few years before seeing the results.
Bloomberg adds that, as noted above, this ambitious undertaking “is the latest example of Apple bringing the design of key components in-house.” And while the company has designed chips powering its mobile devices for several years (see historic crash of Dialog Semi which plunged the most in 16 years ) its move into displays has the long-term potential to hurt a range of suppliers, from screen makers like Samsung Electronics Co., Japan Display Inc., Sharp Corp. and LG Display Co. to companies like Synaptics Inc. that produce chip-screen interfaces. It may also hurt Universal Display Corp., a leading developer of OLED technology.