updated 12:00 am EDT, Thu July 18, 2013
Integrated chip increase likely indicates iOS device ramp-up
Sometimes-accurate Taiwanese trade journal DigiTimes is reporting that Apple has recently doubled integrated chip component orders compared to the prior quarter, according to sources within its supply chain partners. If true, the move is not unexpected and would indicate that the ramp-up for production of the next iPhone and iPad models will begin shortly, aiming for an already-expected fall release. The site also reports on a rumor that Apple is talking to LG and AU Optronics about high-end 4K "Ultra HD" display panels.
"Overall chip shipments are set to grow significantly in the second half of 2013," according to the sources. They added that second-half orders are expected to make up as much as 70 percent of the overall total of chips sold to Apple for the year, a sure sign of a forthcoming new model of iPhone and iPad.
The report said that iPhone components from the IC supply chain had fallen to "about 20 million units quarterly" during the post-holiday period, but is now being doubled to 40 million parts in the current quarter. A much similar order size (if not higher) would be expected for the calendar fourth quarter.
As for the story about Apple talking to display suppliers, speculation has swirled for years that Apple is interested in producing its own branded or co-branded HDTV, fuelled by remarks from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook. Despite this, there has never been any solid information on such a product actually in the works. Apple has relationships with a number of suppliers of displays, particularly with Sharp concerning its low-power IGZO display technology -- but to date, little has emerged from those partnerships beyond screens for iOS and Mac devices.
According to the rumor, Apple is "still testing" the technology it intends to use for the large-screen TVs, and "has yet to finalize" its order with LG. The iPhone maker is also said to be considering long-time partner AU Optronics (based in Taiwan) and Sharp as potential suppliers for the television.
The screen sizes said to be discussed are in the 55- and 65-inch range, which would make any product using them quite expensive: Sony offers a 55-inch "Ultra HD" 4K TV for $5,000, a considerable price drop from when the technology was first introduced in consumer HDTV sets but still beyond the reach of most consumers. The 65-inch model sells for $7,000.