Apple Has Low Profile R&D Facility in Taiwan for Developing Displays

The Apple Crystal BallApple has been operating a research and development facility outside Taipei, Taiwan, for developing its own displays. In a feat of old fashioned gumshoe journalism, Bloomberg reported that Apple has some 50 engineers and other employees at the production laboratory—Bloomberg called it a "secret" facility, though it might be more accurate to call it low profile.

Bloomberg said that Apple has no signage indicating the building belongs to the company, but an Apple logo is displayed inside the lobby. The address has been registered to Apple Taiwan since April, and employees at the facility have Apple ID badges.

Apple has long relied on display manufacturers like Sharp, LG, Japan Display, and erstwhile arch-rival Samsung for displays. According to Bloomberg, Apple is using this facility to do its own research in display technologies, including the development of organic light-emitting diodes. Should Apple develop a display it wanted to use, it could then turn to smaller manufacturers to actually produce them.

No one at Apple is confirming the company's plans, but Apple has been recruiting from AU Optronics, another display company. Apple has also recruited from Qualcomm, from whom Apple bought the building in question.

Assuming Bloomberg has the right of it—which is likely—Apple is following the same model it used to get into the chip-making business. Apple hired engineers and bought chip-design firms to design its own ARM processors, and when those designs were ready, it outsourced production of those chips to Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor. The same is true for other components it uses in its devices, too.

As Apple pursues thinner designs and more control over its products, inventing new wheels in the display space makes at least as much sense as making its own chips.