Despite striking deals with TSMC and Samsung for custom chip manufacturing, Apple has reportedly bought its own fabrication company. Assuming the rumors are true, Apple's deals with other companies -- including TSMC and Samsung -- for iPhone and iPad chips may be short term.
Buying a chip maker means Apple would rely on companies like Samsung even less
Sources speaking with SemiAccurate said that Apple has completed its purchase of a chip fabrication company, and Tom's Hardware said Apple may have purchased United Microelectronics Corporation -- one of the big players in the chip fabrication market.
Apple is currently using TSMC to make the processors that drive the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and a report just surfaced saying that the company has turned back to Samsung for future iPhone processor construction in 2014 and 2015.
If Apple really has bought a company to make its A series processors, it seems reasonable that it wouldn't be able to take over production of its own chips immediately. Instead, relying on TSMC and Samsung would be a short term solution while the company ramps up for its own production.
Buying UMC would give Apple more control over its chip production process and let the company keep its proprietary designs a little more secret since it wouldn't need to share any of that information with third-party companies. UMC makes chips for a long list of companies, too, so Apple could leave those deals in place and generate extra revenue as a chip maker.
It's also possible Apple will leave UMC to run as an independent company while giving its own chips priority in the production schedule. That would leave UMC open to continue making chips for its long list of customers and to go on generating its own revenue.
Apple hasn't confirmed it bought UMC, or even that it's been in the market to buy a chip manufacturing company. Considering the company's need to always be in control, however, it makes sense that Apple would at least look into running its own chip making process. If Apple really did snap up UMC, start looking for new chips in the iPhone and iPad in 2016.