A report by Bloomberg suggests that Apple Inc. is on the verge of adding yet another OLED display supplier to its lineup, but possibly not for this year’s iPhone 8.
Samsung is the only confirmed OLED display supplier for iPhone 8 this year, but a deal-under-negotiation between Apple and Chinese display maker BOE Technology Group Co. Ltd. might see the latter join LG, Sharp and Japan Display as suppliers of OLED displays for iPhones built in 2018 and beyond.
The dearth of OLED display panels is one of the reasons that only the iPhone 8 will have the OLED display panel. The other two models expected to be released alongside it will continue with the existing TFT-LCD screens.
That might change in 2018, once Apple has several suppliers with the collective capacity to satisfy the Cupertino smartphone maker’s massive appetite for components for its most important product line.
According to the report, Apple has been testing BOE’s AMOLED (Active-Matrix Light-Emitting Diode) screens for several months now, but is yet to confirm the Chinese company as a supplier. As for BOE, the company’s projected sales have already prompted it to invest nearly $14.5 billion to build two factories in the Sichuan province.
The first factory will be operational this summer, and the second one in two years. BOE is hopeful about getting the deal with Apple, which will make them the first OLED display supplier to Apple from outside Japan and South Korea.
The high cost of components could drive Apple to do several things: first, it may be considering making some of its own components if the benefits outweigh the costs; second, it could transfer most of the price increases to its customers.
This second possibility might actually become reality. There are already rumors that the flagship iPhone 8 (iPhone X, Ferrari) will cost around $1,000 when it’s released later this year.
Apple is known to be a profitable smartphone maker; and, after 2016 broke their decade-long growth streak, the company will be looking to appease investors this year with not just sales growth, but growth in profitability as well.
As for making its own components, there’s still a degree of uncertainty around whether Apple will explore that option.
However, there’s mounting pressure from a cost perspective because Apple can’t indefinitely keep passing on price rises to consumers. There will be a point at which a consumer will say no to iPhone and start looking for a cheaper alternative in the premium segment. The problem is, Samsung and Google will both be waiting in the wings to catch these “drop-off” customers, and that’s the last thing Apple wants.
The iPhone 8 might get away with super-premium pricing, but subsequent models might not get the same special allowance given to the 10th anniversary iPhone. In fact, even the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus will need to be more or less in line with this year’s iPhone prices.
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