Nikkei Asia claims the fruity cargo cult has spent a small fortune on developing micro-LED displays and wants to take over the mass transfer manufacturing process itself.
The mass transfer step involves moving at least tens of thousands of tiny micro-LED chips onto substrates. This process will be carried out at Apple's secretive R&D facilities in the Longtan District in the northern Taiwanese city of Taoyuan.
Nikkei Asia claims the move will reduce its reliance on Samsung Display and help it gain price-bargaining power over the Korean giant, Apple tried to bring in other suppliers, namely LG Display and China's display champion BOE Technology, but they lag the South Korean leader in terms of technology and quality stability.
For the project, Apple is partnering with suppliers like ams-Osram for micro-LED components, LG Display for the substrates -- also called backplates -- and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. for 12-inch wafers. In addition to designing the driver integrated circuits for the micro-LED screens, Apple even designed some of the production equipment itself, to better control the mass transfer process, according to two of the people with direct knowledge of the matter.
"It doesn't mean that Apple will always do the mass transfer on its own. But it shows how determined Apple is to allocate resources to have more control over [these] next-gen display technologies in its own hands," one of Nikkei Asia's deep throats said.
"Apple's ultimate plan is to introduce the technologies on its iPhone, which is its key revenue source and has much bigger volume, to justify the investments over the years," added another deep throat.