Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) long ago foresaw the value of Flash RAM, and grabbed a large chunk of the global supplies year after year because of their massive sales of iPods, iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. Because of that manufacturing capacity has had to grow (sometimes painfully) and the price of Flash RAM has often fluctuated in line with supply volumes because of their requirements. Ultimately though, today we can thank Apple to some extent for being able to buy 16GB Thumb Drives for as little as $15.
Because Apple are not just the number one consumer of these components, but also the biggest growth company moving forwards in the world today, manufacturers have been more than happy to come along for the ride. Often giving Apple preferential treatment because of their massive buying power.
It’s a symbiotic relationship for Apple and the companies that make their components. Apple’s continued growth fuels the manufacturing companies growth, and in turn both can produce better and better products more and more efficiently. So getting those manufacturers to focus more attention on other smaller businesses when they are all ready at full, or near full capacity, with their best customer, can be a problem for some.
Fast forward to today and Apple are now also the biggest consumer of LCD Touch Panel Displays globally. In total they consume around 60% of the entire World’s production capacity. Such a large slice that other PC manufacturers are actually having supply problems, and have themselves had to start making manufacturing partnerships to try and produce more LCD panels for their own uses.
Meanwhile Apple have also invested yet more money themselves in as yet undefined manufacturing projects, which many believe are aimed at producing yet more volumes and higher quality (read higher resolution / DPI) LCD Touch Panels.
On top of all that Apple are already looking forwards to OLED displays for future projects, as was borne out this week with news of a internal industry only job posting from Apple looking for experts in the field of OLED panels, with focus on yield capacity expertise.
Other manufacturers hoping for an easier manufacturing and supply line experience this year had better keep working on expanding their own manufacturing lines, as Apple seems to be looking for more, and not less when you consider their plans and projections for 2011.
What do you think of Apple’s massive component consumption? Have your say in the comments…