To the first question, I believe that IHS is not saying that the only reason for pure play foundry growth this year is the Apple move. I'm interpresting, but it seems like pure play foundries were going to have a pretty good year anyway, and this is just icing on the cake. But it's a lot of icing. Last year, IHS predicted that Apple would spend $28 billion on chips in 2012.
This IHS report makes the point that with Apple's expected shift to TSMC, pure play foundries will be getting a bigger slice of the pie than they did before. My question is, does that matter? Samsung is competing head to head with the pure play foundries and wether Apple's chips are built by Samsung or TSMC, they are contributing to the size of the foundry industry. From a customer perspective, the only difference I can see (process technology being equal) is the issue of wether you want to have your chips built by Samsung or Intel when they may be at some level a competitor. This has always been a knock on Samsung's foundry operation. And Samsung is such a broad company that it must compete with just about everyone on some level.
Another issue that traditionally dogged Samsung and other memory chip vendors that did foundry work is what happens when an upturn comes and your capacity utilization shoots up? Do you still build chips for other companies or do those move to the back of the line, after your own products? Samsung has obviously overcome this issue and has fabs dedicated to foundry work. If Intel continues to increase its presence in foundry, I wonder if this will be an issue for Intel.
Personally, I don't believe that cost has anything to do with it. To my knowledge, there is no evidence to suggest that having its chips built by TSMC will save Apple any money. I thinkit has everything to do with the IP fights. It seems like common sense that when you believe that a supplier has lifted your intellectual property, you are probably better off having a different company build your chips. Just my opinion.
This will obviously be a boost to foundries. I wonder how much of Apple's shift is based on: a) its nasty public spat with Samsung; b) its fame for ultra-secrecy around new products; c) cost savings. I also wonder if this will have longer-term ripple effects down the road that will lead to further divergence between Samsung's Droid phones and Apple's iPhones.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.