As Apple does the chip design and orders substantial amounts, getting a second source at favorable conditions should be no real issue. Therefore, Apple would have no problems remaining fabless. At the risk of detouring the thread, my concern, was I Mr. Apple, would be displays. Here second sources are difficult to see.
It might help Apple to be tension free and will help the supply chain to make sure products are always available in the market. May be apple should build a fab if they can't innovate and bring a new product into market which could succeed like ipod/iphone. I believe all the Apple customers(say it as apple crazy) are not really worried if there is a delay in buying a gizmo. Success of Apple products is in their innovation and faster time to market for the first time.
I guess one of the main reason for preferential treatment that Apple gets is due to the sheer volumes of Apple products. This is especially true for NAND Flash. For A4 chip, Considering all iDevices would use this in future, again the volumes are very high. So I guess Apple could negotiate for similar deals at most other foundries.
To a large degree Apples success is a result of its "closed" system approach. HW and SW are designed together and only Apple gets to use Apple technology. This model has been very successful bot financially and customer wise. However, Apple is light years away from pushing the number of devices that would be needed to justify investing in its own fab. To run a successful fab Apple would have to offer service to fabless companies where many would likely be in similar market segments .. and I do not see that happening anytime soon .. if not ever.
Value lies in design, not technology
I am for the idea that Apple should have some controll of its chip supply that has the longgest time to bring up an alternate. However, I believe there are many other options tha 'building' their own fab, how about leasing some capacity from those 2nd tier foundries (SMIC, UMC, GF..) that are dieing to get some popular products to fill their empty 300mm fabs (if not empty now,they will), with this, they can also leverage Samsung chip price (not that Apple need this now given their product popularity and margins).
True. But as I stated, Apple would get no preferential treatment or special pricing at TSMC or GlobalFoundries. Apple would just be another customer even if TSMC pulled out the red carpet. That would bug Steve Jobs.
Chandler, I agree. Getting on the semiconductor manufacturing train and following Moore's Law to the end of the line is way outside Apple's business model and it's expertise. If anything were to happen to the Apple-Samsung relationship, there are other foundries...each of which would jump through hoops to win the Apple business.
Personally, I hold the opinion that building a fab because of Samsung's rise as a competitor is not justifiable. Apple could always go with other foundry players who are not in the path of conflicts for their ARM processors. I've always seen Apple as a design company, something like maintaining a competitive fab should really be left to the professionals.