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Apple is reportedly planning to rely on Korean suppliers for device displays, even as it seeks to develop its own components for greater control over product designs. According to a new report by the Korea Herald, Apple has emerged as a new player in the display market from a long-term perspective, as it expands its use of in-house components and displays.
The report, which cites the Korea Institute for Information & Communications Technology Promotion (IITP), suggests that Apple is planning to transition its devices from OLED to microLED, starting with the Apple Watch Ultra in 2024 or 2025, followed by iPhones, iPads, and eventually MacBooks.
However, the IITP believes that it may take some time for Apple to completely commercialize its self-made display technology. Given that microLED display, production remains challenging, manufacturing costs are higher, so Apple will continue to source at least 60% of its components from Korean display manufacturers such as Samsung Display and LG Display for the next several years.
The report states that “Apple is expected to outsource display production to Korean vendors in the coming years to save the costs necessary for mass production. If domestic display makers can outsource Apple’s microLED production, it could give them the advantage to catch up with their Chinese rivals”.
The move to microLED displays has been rumored for some time, with several sources suggesting that a new Apple Watch Ultra with a microLED display could be on the horizon. Display Supply Chain Consultants CEO Ross Young, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, and Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu have all suggested that the microLED transition could begin by the end of 2024, though the timeframe could slip into 2025.
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Meanwhile, Apple is still completing its lengthy transition from LCD to OLED display technology. The Apple Watch has used OLED since it launched in 2015, and iPhone models gradually switched to OLED starting in 2017. Rumors suggest the first iPad Pro and MacBook models with OLED displays will be released in 2024.
As Apple seeks to maintain its position as a leader in the technology industry, it is clear that the company will continue to invest in developing its own components and displays. However, the reliance on Korean suppliers for the next several years highlights the challenges of producing microLED displays at scale, and the importance of partnerships and collaborations in the technology industry.