Apple does not manufacture its own devices. Part of its business strategy and its specific product strategy and supply chain strategy is to design components and products while outsourcing relevant production inputs and actual production requirements to other companies. This article identifies the major suppliers of Apple.
The Major Companies Behind Apple Devices: A Look Into Key Apple Suppliers
Apple products were produced in several Apple-owned factories in the late 1990s. However, because outsourcing became a more cost-efficient alternative as countries developed their comparative advantages, the company started to depend on third parties for its manufacturing requirements. Note that it also depends on ready-made supplies from other manufacturers.
Apple has positioned itself as a fabless chipmaker beginning with the introduction of its A series of chips for the iPhone and its further push to ditch Intel chips and CISC-based architecture for its own ARM-based and RISC-based M series of chips for Mac and iPad devices.
However, because it is a fabless chipmaker, it does not make the chips itself. The company designs chips and outsources its production to foundries or semiconductor manufacturers. Below are the major suppliers of Apple for its chips:
• TSMC: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company or TSMC is the main contract manufacturer for the Apple A series and M series of system-on-chips. It began its relationship with Apple when it manufactured the A5 Bionic chip in 2011. It was also behind the M1 chip that was introduced in 2020.
Apple used to outsource other chipmakers for its chips. These included United Microelectronics Corporation. Intel Corporation also supplied Intel chips for its Mac line of computers. The company still outsources some chip components from the following third parties:
• Broadcom: An American semiconductor company that supplies Apple with Wi-Fi chips and wireless charging components.
• Samsung Electronics: The semiconductor division of Samsung Electronics provides NAND flash and DRAM chips used in mobile consumer electronic devices and some personal computer products of Apple. Samsung was also the former contracted manufacturer for some of the A series and W series of chips.
• Micron Technology: An American producer of computer memory. It supplies the memory chips used in products such as the iPhone and iPad.
• Qualcomm: This company is known for chips that power mid-range and high-end Android devices. It also manufactures chips for wireless technologies. Apple sources its modem chips from this company while also licensing some patented technologies for its chip designs and component requirements.
2. Display and Screens
Technologies for modern displays and materials for display screens are integral parts of specific Apple devices such as the MacBook line of Mac computers, the iMac desktop computer, the Studio Display and Pro Display XDR, and smaller consumer electronic devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and the Apple Watch.
Note that the company uses different display technologies and screen materials across its product portfolio. Some are top-tier techs and materials used in high-end devices while others are used in consideration of costs and end-use pricing. Take note of the following major suppliers of Apple for its display and screen requirements:
• Samsung Electronics: This company has a dedicated division that researches and produces OLED display technologies. Apple has been sourcing its OLED requirements from Samsung for its iPhone devices and the Apple Watch.
• LG Corp: Apple also sources some of its OLED requirements from LG Corporation. Note that Samsung and LG are known for their OLED technologies.
• Epistar Corporation: A Taiwanese manufacturer of light-emitting diodes that is behind the mini-LED display technology used in high-end devices such as the MacBook Pro, iMac, the iPad Pro, and Pro Display XDR.
• Sharp: This Japanese company supplies the LCD panels used in Mac computers, some models of iPhones, and the iPad.
• Corning Incorporated: An American tech company that supplies glass screens to Apple. It is behind the high-performance proprietary Gorilla glass used in OLED and IPS LCD screens of mid-range and high-end devices.
3. Other Components
Apple devices use other specialized hardware components beyond chips or processors and displays as part of their selling propositions. Examples include the cameras and face recognition technology found on iPhones. Take note of the following suppliers:
• Sony: This Japanese multinational conglomerate is the main supplier of key components found inside the camera systems of iPhone devices. These include image or camera sensors and relevant electrical components.
• AMS-OSRAM: An Austrian-German company behind the FaceID facial recognition tech used in iPhone and iPad Pro devices.
• Murata: The ceramic capacitors found inside Apple devices are procured from Japan-based Murata Manufacturing. These components are used to control the flow of electricity in electronic devices.
• Harman Kardon: An audio component manufacturer that supplies the stereo speakers used in Mac computers, the iPad, and other relevant devices.
4. Product Assembly
Remember that the company designs products such as its entire line of Mac computers, the iPhone and the iPad, and the Apple Watch, among others. Product design involves research and development. It then sources pre-built components, contracts other manufacturers to produce custom-developed components, and contracts third parties for final product assembly. The following are the major suppliers of Apple as far as assembly is concerned:
• Foxconn: A Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturer that trades as Hon Hai Technology Group in China and Taiwan. It assembles iPhone products in facilities in Mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, India, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and European countries.
• Pegatron: This is another Taiwanese electronics manufacturer that also assembles iPhone products. It has facilities in Mainland China and India.
• Wistron Corporation: Note that Apple contracted this Taiwanese manufacturer for the final production requirements of its iPhone SE products. However, according to several reports, the company is planning to also outsource the production of some of the devices in its entire iPhone line in the future.
• Compal: The iPad and Apple Watch products are assembled by Compal Electronics. It is another Taiwanese company with a main facility in Mainland China.
• Quanta Computer: A Taiwanese manufacturer of personal computers. It manufactures most of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air devices. The company also assembles some orders of the Apple Watch. It has major production facilities located across different cities and provinces in Mainland China.
• Wingtech: This state-owned chipmaker has expanded into contract manufacturing. It now assembles Mac computers and other Apple products.