TSMC turns down both Apple and Qualcomm exclusivity deals

August 30, 2012
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Back on August 21, Apple and Samsung lawyers were preparing to make their closing statements in their recent legal showdown that took place in the United States. At that time, we published an article explaining a few reasons why Apple won’t divorce Samsung anytime soon. Arguably the best argument was that no other IC foundry could satisfy Apple’s needs without having to terminate any deals it has with other clients.

Fast forward a little over a week and we now know that Samsung was dealt a major blow, in the form of roughly a billion US dollars, as well as the imminent ban of some of its products. Interestingly enough, Bloomberg recently reported that Apple has unsuccessfully tried to purchase exclusive access to TSMC’s chip production capabilities. The sum revolves around one billion dollars, almost the exact same sum that Samsung has to hand over to Apple. Qualcomm also made a similar bid, and was also turned down by TSMC, the largest IC foundry in the world by revenues.

This falls in well with TSMC’s recent reports mentioning that it’s open towards dedicating one or two factories to a single consumer. At this time, we don’t know if a lack of exclusivity deal is, in fact, a deal breaker for Apple, but we do know that two factories cannot replace the entire chip production deal it currently has with Samsung. On the other hand, a gradual move towards TSMC and other foundries is possible, although it will raise the bill of materials for its upcoming smartphones and tablets. In the spirit of this previous article, all Apple can do is have an affair.

Qualcomm is currently having some problems with the supply of its S4 processor, and it surely wouldn’t hurt the company to increase its production numbers as the S4 Pro SoC becomes commercially available over the following months. From where I’m standing, Qualcomm should be more motivated than Apple to contract any unused TSMC production capacity, but I guess we’ll have to wait a bit more to know for sure.

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