Apple caught in bidding war over sole iPhone display chipmaker


Will the new iPhone SE look more like the iPhone 5s than the iPhone 6?
Will the new iPhone SE look more like the iPhone 5s than the iPhone 6?
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple wants to keep a tight grip on its supply chain, but it’s caught in a bidding war over a key component supplier for the iPhone.

Renesas Electronics has been in talks with Apple about Cupertino taking over a unit of the Japanese company that makes all the iPhone’s display chips. Apple has been interested in the purchase, but it’s now set to lose to a higher bid from Synaptics, a screenmaker that already works with Apple and its competitors.

“Apple Inc. had also been in talks about a possible purchase of the stake in Renesas SP Driver in what was seen as a potential move to shore up its global supply chain, but the sources said those talks failed to make progress and Renesas had narrowed its consideration to Synaptics,” reports Reuters.

Synaptics, who currently supplies Apple, Samsung and others with touchscreens, is willing to pay an upwards of $490 million to own the Renesas division, while Apple reportedly is not. It’s a sticky situation because the “point of Synaptics’ bid was to do more business with Apple,” according to Nikkei. If the talks turn sour, Apple could possibly take its business elsewhere.

The main cause of Renesas not wanting to sell to Apple is that it worries the company will cut off supplies of display chips to current partners. Which should be expected, because that’s the way Apple works.

  • The name of the division is “Renesas SP Driver”. They make the LCD display chip. Not to be confused with display drivers, which would be the software that Apple wrote to drive the chip.