With the focus on software for WWDC, it's not looking great for Apple [AAPL] and Samsung, with the visit by Apple COO, Tim Cook, last month seemingly failing to secure those precious AMOLED panels for the iPad 3.
[ABOVE: Apple's Tim Cook introduces the Verizon iPhone 4 earlier this year.]
This is not especially good news for Apple, engaged as it is in a "platform war" with Facebook, Google and Amazon. This hasn't stopped former Apple board member and ex-Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, from urging PC users to dump Windows and 'Get A Mac' speaking at D9 last night, but I digress.
Returning to the soap opera: Apple might be Samsung's biggest customer, but the South Korean firm is deep in with Google over production of Android-powered Galaxy mobile devices. Apple and Samsung are currently engaged in a bitter court dispute over the look and feel of these devices.
Now it seems Samsung won't supply the AMOLED panels Apple had hoped to deploy in iPad 3. Cook even traveled to South Korea recently to meet with Samsung chiefs in order to discuss supplies of these panels, but industry sources say it isn't happening.
[ABOVE: Apple seems to think Samsung's Galaxy devices look a lot like iPhones. To be honest, so do I. What do you think?]
Production, or protection?
They say production capacity for these displays is "too low", generating a shortage of the screens and that Samsung is unlikely to ramp-up sufficiently until after the iPad 3 hits market in 2012. Samsung also uses these screens in its own products -- making them a competitive advantage.
"Samsung brand tablet PCs have not all adopted AMOLED panels. Only its Galaxy S II smartphones feature AMOLED panels, hence, it is unlikely for iPad 3 to adopt AMOLED panels," reports Digitimes.
The back-story here is that Apple has begun certifying components for iPad 3, and has secured help from "many" Taiwan-based manufacturers for the product.
"Taiwan-based component makers for backlight modules and light bars have received certification from Apple, however, the certification of panels is still in progress, added industry sources."
iPad 3 -- not until 2012
Samsung and LG Display are both panel suppliers for Apple. In a move to diversify its suppliers, Apple has almost completed the certification of panels from Taiwan-based Chimei Innolux.
Digitimes' sources have a message for those anticipating an iPad 3 release this year -- an off-the-wall rumor launched by Daring Fireball that has since accumulated its own currency:
"According to component makers, the timing for the launch of iPad 3 should be in 2012."
So, given a lack of AMOLED panels (likely to be described as 'Retina Display' class screens by Apple's genius marketing department), what will Apple do?
If Digitimes is correct we can expect the iPad 2 to continue on trajectory to become the dominant tablet device.
One-pound iPad 2 is an 800-pound tablet industry gorilla
This means Apple will be in position to exchange economies of scale into price reductions set to make its tablet an even more tempting proposition to consumers and business users alike as competing devices continue to fail to match the product on features, design, utility or price. Despite the Computex hype.
The hype claiming Android-powered tablets will steal a chunk from Apple's iPad dominance remains unrealised, in part because the Google OS remains unsuited for larger devices, in part through lack of apps, and lack of consumer interest in the devices. JP Morgan today said competitors had reduced build orders by around 10 percent in response.
However, with screen resolution becoming a central tenet of the touch-based modern post-PC tablet experience, the company will surely be hoping it can support its alternative display manufacturers in ramping-up their own production of AMOLED-class displays.
What will Apple do? Will Samsung and Apple find a way to patch things up? Would relationship counselling help? Let us know in comments below. I'd also very much like to invite you to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when I post new reports here first on Computerworld.