If successful, Apple will no longer have to rely on another company for its screens.
Apple’s laptops, smartphones, tablets, and watches rely on hundreds of parts, most of which Apple sources from other companies around the world. But the more of those parts Apple can make itself, the more profit it can generate as well as making its supply chain more reliable. Apple already started making its own chips, now it’s attempting to make displays.
As Bloomberg reports, Apple is thought to be designing and producing its own displays in a secret manufacturing facility near California. More specifically, the focus is on producing MicroLED screens like those recently produced by Samsung to form the 146-inch modular TV launching in August.
In Apple’s case, perfecting MicroLED screen production would remove the need to rely on companies including Samsung, Japan Display, Sharp, and LG Display. We could see Apple displays used in the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and maybe even MacBooks in the future, but there’s one big problem: MicroLED is extremely difficult to manufacture.
Apple’s focus on MicroLED is due to the benefits offered, notably they create thinner, brighter, and less power-hungry displays without the downsides of OLED (limited life span, brightness). However, because each pixel has its own light in a MicroLED array, it throws up some manufacturing challenges. Those challenges apparently almost made Apple shut down the project last year, but it didn’t, and now working displays are being produced.
It’s unlikely we’ll see these Apple displays any time soon, if at all. The cost of mass producing OLED and eventually MicroLED will continue to fall and other manufacturers already focused on display production will benefit first. Apple would need to invest heavily in facilities before it could get serious about making displays. So, for the foreseeable future, expect Apple to continue signing display contracts with its partners.