Last week, reports showed that Apple would return to Samsung in 2015 to produce its processor chips, but a new report from Korean IT site ET News suggests that Apple will return to Samsung much sooner than previously believed. The Korean IT news site says that Apple will employ Samsung to make its iPad Mini 2 liquid crystal displays (LCDs) when the time arrives to manufacture the second-generation mini tablet.
Samsung, of course, is not the only ones to manufacture the new iPad Mini 2; along with Samsung will come companies LG Electronics and Sharp Electronics. In the wake of Apple’s rehiring of Samsung to produce its displays, Apple is also tossing out AU Optronics as a display manufacturer. According to ET News,
“Last year, AUO started to supply panels to Apple thanks to its price competitiveness. However, it could not convince Apple, as it failed to meet the supply deadlines or to develop an LCD with high penetration rate. Also, the improved relationship between Samsung Display and Apple seems another factor for AOU being dropped. ‘Samsung Display is known to have developed an LCD sample for iPad Mini 2. The company may be able to secure more order than Sharp did, if it can stabilize production yields’, said a person from the LCD industry.”
Remember when Apple and Samsung started to part ways? At that time, Apple looked for other partners to fill the void left behind by Samsung. It seems now, however, that the Apple-Samsung relationship is improving – and both parties are moving forward past last summer’s copyright patent trial in which Apple sued Samsung for $2.525 billion (while only being awarded $1.048 billion by a citizen jury). This is good news for Apple, a company that relies on Samsung heavily for its displays, as well as Samsung (a company that could use the money in lieu of its recent Q2 2013 earnings announcement that fell $600 million short of Wall Street expectations).
ET News said in the above quote that Samsung has submitted an LCD sample for the iPad Mini 2 – a reference to the next-generation mini tablet that has been rumored to appear either 1) this Fall or 2) Spring or Fall 2014. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that there will be no iPad Mini 2 this Fall, but this news complicates things a bit: after all, this is the time when Apple is looking at prototypes of iPads (according to the Wall Street Journal), is it not? If so, then Apple is currently considering the iPad Mini 2 this Fall – which would make its timing with Samsung significant. Why would Samsung have submitted a sample in 2013 for a product that won’t be manufactured until 2014? It seems then, that Samsung will produce an iPad Mini 2 for Apple this Fall.
At the same time, however, LG Electronics complicates the matter further. DigiTimes, the infamous site that said some time ago that there would be no Retina iPad Mini this Fall, changed its statement late last week to say that LG Electronics will manufacture Apple’s Retina displays for the iPad Mini 2, after all. We’ve also heard that Apple is talking with LG currently about producing 55 and 60-inch 4K TV displays, so it’s not too far-fetched to assume that LG will manufacture both high-resolution TV displays and iPad Mini displays at the same time.
Will there be one iPad Mini or two iPad Minis, a Retina model and a non-Retina model? Both seem likely, if Samsung’s sample is accepted. Even if Samsung’s is not, it seems likely that LG and Sharp will be able partners with Apple to produce an iPad Mini 2, if not the Retina iPad Mini everyone wants. A source inside of LG, close to DigiTimes, says that LG will manufacture 2 million to 3 million Retina displays for the second-generation iPad Mini this Fall.
It looks as if Samsung has gone from the doghouse back to the main house with Apple.