Apple has been striving to diversify its supply chain for OLED screens for its flagship iPhone versions, working with multiple suppliers to slash Samsung’s monopoly — even adding funds into two of them.
Apple has taken an active role in working to bring additional suppliers on board. In 2017, the Cupertino firm reportedly invested a whopping $2.7 billion in the setup costs for LG OLED manufacturing lines in return for repayment over time and the lines being exclusively used for iPhone screens. That has paid off, with LG now believed to have two production lines manufacturing OLED screens for this year’s iPhones.
Chinese display manufacturer BOE is also reported to be close to winning its first-ever OLED screen orders from Apple; however, isn’t anticipated actually to start supplies until 2020.
Which sheds more light on long-running Japan Display saga. The corporate has almost gone bust twice. It was saved in 2016 by a $636M government bailout; however, was very slow to recognize the industry change from LCD to OLED that it ran into troubles again. A second rescue mission was supposedly finalized in April 2018, helped by Apple agreeing to wait for repayment of a $1.5B loan made in 2015.
Things began to unravel in June after a major supported pulled out before issues were resolved with Apple contributing a reported $100M.
Japan Display is now exploring the concept of mass producing next-gen organic electroluminescent panels for smartphones at a domestic manufacturing plant, according to the CEO of a China-Hong Kong consortium that is bailing out the troubled Apple supplier.