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WSJ: Apple finally signs deal with TSMC, decreases dependence on Samsung

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
A report from The Wall Street Journal on Friday claims Apple finally sealed a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. earlier in June, with the first chips to start rolling off the production line in 2014.

TSMC


The WSJ report cites a TSMC executive as saying Apple signed an agreement that will see the chipmaker build next-generation 20nm A-series SoCs that will power future iterations of the iPhone and iPad. Samsung will continue to be Apple's main supplier of A-series chips for 2013.

According to the source, the deal was years in the making, as TSMC was unable to manufacture silicon up to the speed and power standards required by Apple. With the technical difficulties solved, the Taiwanese firm will start chip production in 2014.

Discussions of a partnership date back to 2010, the Journal says, but in 2011 TSMC was unwilling to accept an offer from Apple to either invest heavily in the firm, or reach an agreement that would dedicate a certain amount of fab space specifically for the production A-series chips.

Friday's news appears to confirm part a rumor from earlier this week, which said companies had inked a deal. That report also claimed 20nm SoCs were on the way, but pegged mass production to start in September of 2013 ahead of the chips' inclusion in Apple's next-gen products in 2014.

Currently, Apple relies exclusively on Samsung's fabrication facilities for its A-series processors. The switch to TSMC is widely believed to be part of a move away from Samsung as Apple looks to decrease its reliance on the Korean company.

So far, Apple has succeeded in diversifying its supply chain to include Toshiba NAND flash memory modules and displays made by LG, Japan Display and Sharp. The Cupertino company still sources components from Samsung, but to a much lesser extent than it did just a few years ago.
post #2 of 52
Now just get all your screens from Sharp & LG and get rid of Samsung completely.
post #3 of 52
I know it's a stupid question, but why not Intel, AMD, or some other US company?
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post #4 of 52
Surely just cost related.
post #5 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I know it's a stupid question, but why not Intel, AMD, or some other US company?

lol What does it matter (if it is US or not)? US hardware companies (besides apple) are responsible for what happened in the industry from 95 to 05. In fact, they suck so much that the asian equivalents from developing countries are just hammering it.

 

Obviously intel is great at what it does, but they would stab Apple at the first opportunity (ultrabook, wintel empire, etc).

Is there any value in AMD?

post #6 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by scotia73 View Post

Now just get all your screens from Sharp & LG and get rid of Samsung completely.

Well, once they can be given an assurance of quality, of course.

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post #7 of 52

Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay

My heart is pumpted today

I bet Koh's butt is red

Kicked out of Apple's bed.

 

 

Best I can do- short notice and all.

 

This isn't a full stop but the message makes its point as Apple takes the fight to the beaches. At least this is another good piece of the plan now in place.

 

Apple needs to know that it must never rely upon one company so heavily, ever again, Robin. I wonder if diversity is not a reason Apple isn't looking to Intel, AMD at the moment. However, 'twould be great to see some work brought back to the Home Front.

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post #8 of 52
Great to hear! It's about time Apple drops the hammer on Samsung for all their blatent theft of Apple's IP over the years.

Now to find a supplier of hq screens and drop them alltogether.
post #9 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I know it's a stupid question, but why not Intel, AMD, or some other US company?

I don't think AMD has any fabricating plants, but in this article, the Intel CEO seems to hint that they might do something under the right circumstances.
post #10 of 52
Buh bye Sammy. Next, drop Googs as the default.
post #11 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I know it's a stupid question, but why not Intel, AMD, or some other US company?

 

Not a stupid question at all.  TSMC is a manufacturing beast and close to a pure foundry.  That means they don't make their own chips (although they do do some design work for those that want it)- they just make whatever other people want them to make.  You won't hear of a 'TSMC Pentium' chip or anything they actually make themselves.  They just make a ton of stuff at low margins and can underbid most simply by economies of scale.

 

Intel likes to be a 'playa'  They have their own products.  They generally don't build 'low end' semiconductor devices making mostly high end processors.  They like high margins.

 

Apple generally likes to enter business relationships where they are the dictator rather than a partner and TSMC is a better fit.  That said, the only thing that worries me about TSMC is they struggled a little last year (production wise, not financially) and their two biggest customers went shopping because TSMC couldn't meet their demand.  Adding a new 'biggest customer' when you're already struggling with your existing ones is questionable, and leaves Apple a little vulnerable if TSMC can't deliver.  Hate Samsung all you want but they deliver.  I think Apple found a pretty good balance- their knee jerk was probably to get rid of Samsung sooner, but if they get rid of Samsung at the expense of shooting off their own foot its not worth it.

post #12 of 52
Personally, I would prefer to have Apple's insides made by Samsung (if it can't be Apple/amd/intel) I know most people on here think of them as the devil, but they make solid products. The macs your using now, which we all grown to love have Samsung inside. I think the future quality of Apple products shows some signs of concern...
Edited by Colper - 6/28/13 at 6:37pm

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post #13 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I know it's a stupid question, but why not Intel, AMD, or some other US company?

 

These are ARM chips, and Intel wants to focus on x86.  AMD doesn't have enough capacity.

post #14 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post

lol What does it matter (if it is US or not)? US hardware companies (besides apple) are responsible for what happened in the industry from 95 to 05. In fact, they suck so much that the asian equivalents from developing countries are just hammering it.

 

Obviously intel is great at what it does, but they would stab Apple at the first opportunity (ultrabook, wintel empire, etc).

Is there any value in AMD?

 

Texas Instruments is and has always been a great company... one I would love to see Apple buy.

 

However, I think Apple wanted to move to a foundry only company, where there wouldn't be a conflict of interest.

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #15 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

Not a stupid question at all.  TSMC is a manufacturing beast and close to a pure foundry.  That means they don't make their own chips (although they do do some design work for those that want it)- they just make whatever other people want them to make.  You won't hear of a 'TSMC Pentium' chip or anything they actually make themselves.  They just make a ton of stuff at low margins and can underbid most simply by economies of scale.

Intel likes to be a 'playa'  They have their own products.  They generally don't build 'low end' semiconductor devices making mostly high end processors.  They like high margins.

Apple generally likes to enter business relationships where they are the dictator rather than a partner and TSMC is a better fit.  That said, the only thing that worries me about TSMC is they struggled a little last year (production wise, not financially) and their two biggest customers went shopping because TSMC couldn't meet their demand.  Adding a new 'biggest customer' when you're already struggling with your existing ones is questionable, and leaves Apple a little vulnerable if TSMC can't deliver.  Hate Samsung all you want but they deliver.  I think Apple found a pretty good balance- their knee jerk was probably to get rid of Samsung sooner, but if they get rid of Samsung at the expense of shooting off their own foot its not worth it.

I don't think Apple does "knee jerk". While we like to think Apple is getting some sort of revenge on Samsung, I think this is just Apple diversifying its supply lines. Tim Cook seems to be very calculating, not one to be reactive. Everything he says and does is seems well thought out, never "off the cuff". Business is business.
post #16 of 52
Now SS will never know the exact quantity making them blind to iDevices roll out...out goes their competitive intelligence!
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post #17 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I know it's a stupid question, but why not Intel, AMD, or some other US company?

 

There are probably lots of reasons but I know one very good one.  

 

Deals like this take years to set up and at the time they started talking to TSMC … intel was still playing the "iPhone isn't so great and Atom will whoop your ass," game.  

 

Very recently, intel has been making noises like they would like to be Apple's sole supplier and also that they might move into mass production of ARM chips, but for the most part, and for most of recent history they have been hoping the mobile revolution will just go away and Windows will become dominant again.  

post #18 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I know it's a stupid question, but why not Intel, AMD, or some other US company?

Questions are really never stupid and this one is far from stupid. You have already gotten some good answers but I will add my perspective.

Why not Intel. Simple Intel is all about high margin devices. They do do foundry work for some really high end stuff but have not attempted to do low margins stuff like Apples processors. Frankly it would hurt Intels bottom line unless there is a more significant shrinkage in i86 demand. In a nut shell the costs of the chips would likely be high.

Why not AMD. That is even simpler, AMD has no production capacity. They spun off their manufacturing capacity into a firm called Global Foundries. Every AMD chip you buy these days is made either by Global Foundries or TSMC.

So you may ask why not Global Foundries. That is a more complex question to answer. First for a long time GF and or AMDs foundries stressed performance in their processes over low power. That is changing with the very heavy emphasis on low power these days. The other thing is that GF has been slow to spin up new processes. GF has been so slow that they had to go to TSMC to get chips built in the latest nodes. Things are changing at GF so maybe they might be a player in the future.

As for other US companies, not many offer foundry services. You also get into issues of packaging services and whom will be handling the stacked chip solutions. So even if a US based foundry could priduce the chips Apple wants there is nothing to say they have the technology to assemble the final product. By the way Samsungs factory use to be US owned from what I understand. In any event why the big concern? If you market a product world wide shouldn't you produce that product world wide? It isn't like you can go to Detroit or Chicago and set up a semiconductor plant and have a viable workforce to support it. You need a local with the right workforce and local support infrastructure.
post #19 of 52
Good. Time to stop giving money to the Samscums.
post #20 of 52
Samsungs products are no more rock solid than the engineering Apple puts into them. Like it or not TSMC has a good reputation that few can rival in the foundry business. AMD even had to resort to TSMC when Global Foundries couldn't deliver.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colper View Post

Personally, I would prefer to have Apple's insides made by Samsung (if it can't be Apple/amd/intel) I know most people on here think of them as the devil, but they make solid products.
Unlike many here I don't think this about what many think it is. That is this isn't revenge against Samsung. Rather it is most likely recognition that TMSC has made some significant gains with the new processes and actually appears to be the leader amongst foundries operating on sub 32nm nodes.
Quote:
The macs your using now, which we all grown to love have Samsung inside. I think the future quality of Apple products shows some signs of concern...

I see no justification for that. Apple has yet to stop using Samsung to manufacture flash drives for example. Over all Apples devices use a large number of semiconductor suppliers to say that Samsung is that much better than all of the rest is a bit of a stretch.
post #21 of 52
TSMC is the best chipmaker here in Taiwan. The #1 company here. Apple have the quality standard in building chip & I think TSMC meet the quality standard of Apple. Its time to keep away from Shamesung. A lot of premium company to takeover what Shamesung is doing for Apple. Apple is visionary company, they know what is best. From there new ad Designed by Apple in California "there are thousands of no's in every Yes" I think TSMC is one of the yes! Go Apple I will always support your vision!
post #22 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colper View Post

Personally, I would prefer to have Apple's insides made by Samsung (if it can't be Apple/amd/intel) I know most people on here think of them as the devil, but they make solid products. The macs your using now, which we all grown to love have Samsung inside. I think the future quality of Apple products shows some signs of concern...

 

No one said they don't make quality products. The point it, Apple makes custom chips, having custom designs, which Intel, AMD could use in their own chips. TSMC does not manufacture their own products, so there would be no competing.

 

It is sad to think your partner will use your knowledge against you, but look at Samsung and Google. Both having close ties to Apple's latest technology and both using that to create competing products.  

 

I think this is a great move. TSMC might not be making A8 processor until next year, but they may ramp up A7s just to work out the kinks while Samsung is still producing. I am also excited to see what the A8 will be as Apple will feel comfortable adding new tech that Samsung can't copy. 


Edited by Richard Getz - 6/28/13 at 7:43pm
post #23 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colper View Post

Personally, I would prefer to have Apple's insides made by Samsung (if it can't be Apple/amd/intel) I know most people on here think of them as the devil, but they make solid products. The macs your using now, which we all grown to love have Samsung inside. I think the future quality of Apple products shows some signs of concern...

What about all those Samsung devices using Qualcomm Snapdragons? Who do you think makes those chips?

post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

Not a stupid question at all.  TSMC is a manufacturing beast and close to a pure foundry.  That means they don't make their own chips (although they do do some design work for those that want it)- they just make whatever other people want them to make.  You won't hear of a 'TSMC Pentium' chip or anything they actually make themselves.  They just make a ton of stuff at low margins and can underbid most simply by economies of scale.

Intel likes to be a 'playa'  They have their own products.  They generally don't build 'low end' semiconductor devices making mostly high end processors.  They like high margins.

Apple generally likes to enter business relationships where they are the dictator rather than a partner and TSMC is a better fit.  That said, the only thing that worries me about TSMC is they struggled a little last year (production wise, not financially) and their two biggest customers went shopping because TSMC couldn't meet their demand.  Adding a new 'biggest customer' when you're already struggling with your existing ones is questionable, and leaves Apple a little vulnerable if TSMC can't deliver.  Hate Samsung all you want but they deliver.  I think Apple found a pretty good balance- their knee jerk was probably to get rid of Samsung sooner, but if they get rid of Samsung at the expense of shooting off their own foot its not worth it.

I am not surprise Apple had dropped a couple of $Bs to have their dedicated lines at TSMC.
post #25 of 52
Thanks to all for the thoughtful and informative responses. I still wonder why Apple just doesn't create their own foundry rather than drop billions on others to scale up. It's not like they are too poor is it? I realize it would take some time, whether they start from scratch or acquisition. But, my god, it's not like they are going to stop needing chips in the future. It's the one component needed for everything they do!
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post #26 of 52
To add to what others have said. I worked at both AMD and Intel. E.G. AMD would make the chips in Austin, TX or Dresden, Germany. The wafers would be tested and then shipped to Malaysia for packaging and then to Singapore for final test and burn-in. Intel has fabs all over the world. So the chips really are international in total. Design groups are also spread out. At AMD the main design groups for CPUs are in California and Texas with a group in Boston added just before I retired 4 years ago. Incidentally, AMD split off the fabs just before I retired so they have been using foundries for some time now.
post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

 

No one said they don't make quality products. The point it, Apple makes custom chips, having custom designs, which Intel, AMD could use in their own chips. TSMC does not manufacture their own products, so there would be no competing.

 

It is sad to think your partner will use your knowledge against you, but look at Samsung and Google. Both having close ties to Apple's latest technology and both using that to create competing products.  

 

I think this is a great move. TSMC might not be making A8 processor until next year, but they may ramp up A7s just to work out the kinks while Samsung is still producing. I am also excited to see what the A8 will be as Apple will feel comfortable adding new tech that Samsung can't copy. 

Samsung does seem to be getting away with copying a lot from Apple in overall appearance and function in general and Samsung does make Apple A series ARM based chips but Samsung doesn't make a chip that competes with Apple A series chips. The Apple A series ARM based chips are extremely and highly customized and optimized chips design by Apple for Apple products only and even Samsung isn't stupid enough to even try to copy Apple at the chip level. Intel, GF (AMD) or TSMC would not be able to copy Apple's A series chip designs either without getting into massive lawsuits that Apple would easily win. 

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post #28 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Thanks to all for the thoughtful and informative responses. I still wonder why Apple just doesn't create their own foundry rather than drop billions on others to scale up. It's not like they are too poor is it? I realize it would take some time, whether they start from scratch or acquisition. But, my god, it's not like they are going to stop needing chips in the future. It's the one component needed for everything they do!

Why doesn't Apple make their own displays too?

1) Money can't buy everything, especially talent. For instance, Apple couldn't spend $40B and suddenly be able to launch space missions. Who says Apple would be good at making chips?

2) Doing everything in house has advantages, but also some steep disadvantages. One is being tied to your own technology, even when tech outside your bubble has advanced faster than you. Currently, Apple can sit back and choose the best horse.
post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colper View Post

Personally, I would prefer to have Apple's insides made by Samsung (if it can't be Apple/amd/intel) I know most people on here think of them as the devil, but they make solid products. The macs your using now, which we all grown to love have Samsung inside. I think the future quality of Apple products shows some signs of concern...

 

Samsung's components aren't any better than any other components in Apple's devices. It's Apple's QC that ensures all components meet a certain level of quality. Samsung is currently the only company that can produce the quantity Apple needs, because they've been working for more than four years to build out to meet the ever increasing demand.


Edited by mjtomlin - 6/28/13 at 9:38pm
Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #30 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realistic View Post

but Samsung doesn't make a chip that competes with Apple A series chips.

 

Samsung Exynos is an ARM based SoC.

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #31 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Thanks to all for the thoughtful and informative responses. I still wonder why Apple just doesn't create their own foundry rather than drop billions on others to scale up. It's not like they are too poor is it? I realize it would take some time, whether they start from scratch or acquisition. But, my god, it's not like they are going to stop needing chips in the future. It's the one component needed for everything they do!

 

Almost always cheaper to have someone else manufacture something for you when you're not in the business of selling those components.

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #32 of 52

I wonder how much longer Apple will design their own phone/tablet chips? They don't design their own laptop/desktop chips. They seem to go their own way when what's in the market isn't good enough for the products they want to build. If Intel gets their act together in the phone/tablet space I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple discontinue the A-chips.

post #33 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colper View Post

Personally, I would prefer to have Apple's insides made by Samsung (if it can't be Apple/amd/intel) I know most people on here think of them as the devil, but they make solid products. The macs your using now, which we all grown to love have Samsung inside. I think the future quality of Apple products shows some signs of concern...

No, that's from years of conditioning from "intel inside" (bing! bong bing bong bing!). The PC brands have long since given up their identities to the parts makers. Apple doesn't put "intel inside" stickers on their computers because Apple is the only brand you should see. Not intel. Not nVidia. Not AMD. Not Foxconn. Not tsmc. And certainly not Samsung.

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post #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


So far, Apple has succeeded in diversifying its supply chain to include Toshiba NAND flash memory modules.

Except those Toshiba NAND flash memory modules present in the new 11" Airs are slower than the Samsung NAND flash memory modules present in the new 13" Airs according to Anand.
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post #35 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I wonder how much longer Apple will design their own phone/tablet chips? They don't design their own laptop/desktop chips. They seem to go their own way when what's in the market isn't good enough for the products they want to build. If Intel gets their act together in the phone/tablet space I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple discontinue the A-chips.

Apple have inveted heavily in this, by the time Intel gets around to it Apple will probably have more expertise and knowledge in this area than Intel, and be able to tune everything to work better together. But if they cannot, then yes, switching to Intel wouldn't be the end of the world.
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post #36 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

Buh bye Sammy. Next, drop Googs as the default.

Good luck with that effort.
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post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Rather it is most likely recognition that TMSC has made some significant gains with the new processes and actually appears to be the leader amongst foundries operating on sub 32nm nodes.
I see no justification for that. Apple has yet to stop using Samsung to manufacture flash drives for example. Over all Apples devices use a large number of semiconductor suppliers to say that Samsung is that much better than all of the rest is a bit of a stretch.

 

Serious?

 

Quote:
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Globalfoundries and Samsung are in a dead heat to get their first 14 nm production wafers out before the end of the year, aiming to beat rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. by as much as a year.

http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1263040

 

Samsung has already taped out 14nm and 20nm devices  in 2012 and will have them in production This year, not 2015

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

It is sad to think your partner will use your knowledge against you, but look at Samsung and Google. Both having close ties to Apple's latest technology and both using that to create competing products.  

 

 

You are but one of many people on AI who claim Apple should move their chip manufacture away from Samsung to stop them copying Apple's technology.

 

Can anyone point to any chip level tech Samsung has copied from Apple?

 

They haven't, for the very simple reason they don't need to.  Anyone who thinks Apple knows more about making cutting edge processors and SOC's than Samsung really is living in La-La land.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

 

Samsung's components aren't any better than any other components in Apple's devices. It's Apple's QC that ensures all components meet a certain level of quality. Samsung is currently the only company that can produce the quantity Apple needs, because they've been working for more than four years to build out to meet the ever increasing demand.


That is not true.  You obviously aren't one of the happy customers who bought a Macbook Pro Retina with an LG screen in it.

post #38 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colper View Post

Personally, I would prefer to have Apple's insides made by Samsung (if it can't be Apple/amd/intel) I know most people on here think of them as the devil, but they make solid products. The macs your using now, which we all grown to love have Samsung inside. I think the future quality of Apple products shows some signs of concern...

 

hey look, a new Samesung marketing droid astro-turfing.  Samesung products are garbage. the sooner they get out of my apple products the more reliable those products become.

post #39 of 52
The only problem is Samsung will now have more manufacturing facilities to create even more of its low end products for release into the marketplace.
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

That is not true.  You obviously aren't one of the happy customers who bought a Macbook Pro Retina with an LG screen in it.

 

As if Samsung has NEVER had manufacturing issues before?  Here's an idea... Go to Google and type, "Samsung display issues" Guess what? There are many of them. Even with their newest flagship phone the S4.

 

There is no such thing as perfect manufacturing. Issues, bad batches, etc., can and usually do occur. High-tech components are extremely sensitive and something as simple as a rise or drop in humidity can affect quality.

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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