Although Apple and Samsung claim they can keep their component and manufacturing relationship separate from the patent claims and counterclaims they've filed against each other around the world, it's no secret that Apple is slowly replacing Samsung as a supplier of components for its various products -- most notably the iPad and iPhone.
While Apple has already signed up other companies to make displays, batteries and other components, Samsung remains the only company that produces the A-series chips that power Apple's iOS devices. No doubt, Apple isn't happy about the fact that the most critical component for its most lucrative products comes from its biggest competitor in the mobile market.
All that may be about to change. If you read between the lines of comments New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made last week, you could infer that Apple is eying a site in upstate New York for a manufacturing plant that would allow it to wean itself from Samsung.
Cuomo has been a driving force behind efforts to lure more high-tech manufacturing to upstate New York. The state already has one major chip manufacturer, Global Foundries, that was lured to the area by a series of tax and development incentives. That operation is based in the town or Malta, about 30 minutes outside Albany.
One major facet of the governor's strategy has been to make upstate New York a global resource for nanoscale technology training and research. His efforts have focused on expanding programs at two colleges that are part of State University of New York (SUNY) system. One of those colleges, the University at Albany, has seen a massive expansion in scientific and computing programs since Cuomo took office two years ago. As part of that process, the school's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering has just about doubled the size of the university with a series of new facilities and related resources.
The other school, the SUNY Institute of Technology, a four-year college in the city of Utica, will also see a major expansion. A project known as the Computer Chip Commercialization Center (or Quad-C) will add a 165,000-square-foot facility containing clean rooms, offices and laboratories. The site is designed to manufacture System-on-chip (SoC) devices that are developed at SUNY Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Local infrastructure upgrades to support the facility are also designed to serve commercial development at a technology park known as Marcy Nanocenter, a 420-acre parcel adjacent to the SUNY IT campus.
Both the new facility in Utica and the existing Luther Forest Technology Campus that houses the Global Foundries chip factory in Malta, N.Y., are seen as potential sites for new production facilities for Apple's A-series SoC processors, which power all iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and Apple TV devices.
Recent speculation has focused on reports that Apple is using a consulting firm -- Deloitte -- to scout for potential production facilities. Deloitte will say only that it is representing a major high-tech manufacturer. The scouting process and various pitches to New York officials -- including a project going by the code name Project Azalea -- became public in recent weeks, though very few details have leaked.