Apple Unsuccessfully Tried to Purchase Exclusive Access to TSMC Chip Production for iOS Devices
Bloomberg reports that Apple and Qualcomm each put forth investment bids topping $1 billion in attempting to secure exclusive access to chip supplies from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), but the bids were declined as TSMC has sought to retain flexibility for its production. While Apple's effort has so far been unsuccessful, it does appear to be part of the company's continuing strategy to lessen its dependence on Samsung for components in its mobile devices.
The two companies are trying to satisfy booming demand for smartphones, a market estimated by to be worth $219.1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries. Any deal would give Apple an alternate supplier to Samsung Electronics Co., which builds the main chip used in the iPhone and iPad and is also its biggest rival in smartphones. Qualcomm needs to boost supply, since shortages are starting to limit earnings.
TSMC has, however, indicated in recent weeks that it would be open to dedicating one or two of its factories to a single customer, but it is unclear if Apple is pursuing that alternative in the absence of a deal for complete exclusivity.
Rumors dating back to March 2011 had pegged Apple as working with TSMC on production of the Ax-series chips that power Apple's iOS devices, but production issues were cited as a primary reason for those plans falling through and Apple remaining with Samsung for the time being.
Samsung has been working hard to compartmentalize its patent and design dispute with Apple in an effort to prevent the fallout from that situation from affecting component supply contracts. But a number of rumors in recent years have pointed to Apple seeking out alternate suppliers for some portion of its component needs as part of a strategic effort to diversify its supply chain away from Samsung and its increasingly competitive position in the mobile device marketplace.