Reports have suggested that Apple is worried about being overly dependent on Japan for iPhone flash memory, which has led the Cupertino company to give serious thought to joining forces with a new Chinese supplier.
Bloomberg cited “people familiar with the matter” in its report claiming that Apple was considering adding to a roster of suppliers that already includes Micron Technology Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., in the wake of Kioxia Holdings Corp. losing a batch of output to contamination last month.
Although the Bloomberg report suggested that Samsung and SK Hynix Inc. were “likely to pick up the slack”, Apple was still keen to diversify its network of suppliers, to guard against further disruption related to the pandemic and issues with shipping.
The article claimed that Apple had tested sample NAND chips at China’s Yangtze Memory Technologies, which is owned by the state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup Co.
Although such a linkup would represent a milestone for China – and would mark the first instance of Apple turning to a Chinese producer for the memory chips to include in its iPhones – it could leave the American tech giant facing controversy at home. Washington and Beijing have been at odds lately over China’s refusal to take a strong public stance on the conflict in Ukraine.
It was reported as long ago as 2018 that Yangtze had discussed providing flash memory to Apple – although back then, the suggestion was that Yangtze’s production would be solely for iPhones sold in the Chinese market.
Right now, reports as to the outcome of the discussions are mixed. Bloomberg reported that no decision had yet been made about Apple and Yangtze commencing a partnership, while DigiTimes has said that Yangtze has already passed Apple’s validation tests and will begin small volumes of shipments in May.