Fear has long been a management tactic in Apple's playbook. Fear of litigation is a huge one. Only a company like Samsung has deep enough pockets to take them on and even in their case its looking somewhat marginal.
Exactly. But the thing is that Apple already released its major supplier list in January this year. Cirrus Logic's name is on the document Apple released to public. Further Cirrus also disclosed Apple as its biggest customer in its 10-Q filed to SEC.
Clearly Apple is scaring every chip supplier because they can!
Apple does not like its suppliers mentioning possible design wins and has penalized suppliers in the past for jumping the gun with announcements. Cirrus is also sworn to secrecy which seems to have scared them into not mentioning Apple at all.
"But isn't it true that Cirrus is putting its life on the line by being Apple's captive? Once Cirrus loses Apple's account [which could happen], I can't imagine how possibly Cirrus can recover from such a devestating damage."
I can't either, but what *can* Cirrus do? I'm sure they'd be happy to get more customers and diversify their revenue stream, but such efforts will be constrained by the need to take care of Apple first.
Apple is the majority of their business, and they have every possible incentive to retain it. You may assume that they are talking to Apple daily about what it wants and what Apple plans to do in the future, and are actively working on designs intended to address Apple's expressed future needs.
Can they lose the account? Sure. But given their current position, what would it take for someone else to take it away from them? What incentive would Apple have to switch? The most likely would be a significantly component lower cost, but I'm not sure any other player could undercut Cirrus enough to tempt Apple and still make money and provide the sort of quality Apple will demand. I don't see Apple being dumb enough to switch without a very good reason. Moves that will kill a key supplier aren't ones that help you longer term.
I don't see any reason for Apple to buy them, either. Cirrus isn't doing anything proprietary that Apple would acquire them for to keep it out of other's hands. Right now, Apple has the best of both worlds - a captive subsidiary, for practical purposes devoted to them, but which they do not own and have no financial ties to save as a customer. If Cirrus suffers reverses and books large losses, Apple may need to qualify a different supplier, but is otherwise unaffected.
OK, fair enough, Cirrus is compensated by getting an incredible revenue growth. But isn't it true that Cirrus is putting its life on the line by being Apple's captive? Once Cirrus loses Apple's account [which could happen], I can't imagine how possibly Cirrus can recover from such a devestating damage.
Except that Apple used a different audio vendor for Gen 1, maybe also Gen 2, and Cirrus beat them out of that socket for successive generations.
Could Cirrus be displaced in the future? Anything is possible, but once you're this deeply entrenched and making custom ICs for your biggest customer, I think you'd have to really screw up badly to lose the business at this point.