It's no secret that Apple's relationship with Samsung has taken a turn for the worst since the late Steve Jobs declared "thermonuclear" war on Android. The two have been at odds in the court room for what feels like ages, but now the battle is spilling into other aspects of the companies. The Cupertino company has started to distance itself from Samsung as much as possible by signing deals with other processor and display manufacturers, which in the end, will hurt Samsung more than Apple. But, Apple's quest to distance itself and hurt Samsung just got a tad harder. Samsung has announced that it has invested $111 million into Sharp, another large supplier for Apple, for a 3 percent stake.
Samsung claims that it won't get involved in any business management aspects of Sharp in "any way or form," but that it will receive a "steady" supply of LCD panels from the company. The South Korean company will put these panels to use in its phones and tablets. Having such a solid relationship with Sharp will undoubtedly benefit Samsung. The company could very well get a peek at Sharp's long-term roadmap, as well as future technology. As far as we know, Samsung could as influence Sharp's future products.
How does this effect Apple, you may wonder? Apple is currently one of Sharp's largest customers and it is believed that the Cupertino company acoounts for nearly a third of Sharp's LCD shipments. Sharp, as we've seen in the past, can have a direct impact on the supply and availability of Apple products. Should the display manufacturer begin to make Samsung a higher priority than Apple, the Cupertino company could run into trouble when it comes to launching new products and maintaining stock of popular items.
"It's not like Samsung is going to write a memo to Sharp to have unfavorable terms with Apple," Susquehanna analyst Mehdi Hosseini explained. "But they could influence Sharp or indirectly influence Sharp's relationship with Apple, and it gives them better market intelligence on their competitor and is a way of putting more pressure on Apple."
While Samsung's deal with Sharp won't have any immediate effects on Apple, it could very well hurt the company in the long run. Samsung getting early access to new, innovative display technologies could give its mobile devices a leg up on Apple. Like we said before, Samsung could also begin a bigger priority for Sharp, thus giving Apple the shaft when it comes to putting its product's componants first on the production line. In order to prevent this, Apple may need to find another manufacturer to make its displays or even work out a deal with Foxconn to invest in Sharp, which it almost already did once.
This will definitely be something to watch as Apple's struggles continue. But one things for sure: Apple needs to do something.