Samsung's chip factories manufacture a huge amount of chips, but the range of different types of chips is somewhat small. On top of making their own chips, Samsung's foundries manufacture on a contract basis, and currently tend toward taking big deals from big clients. This has led them to their current situation, where they rely on just a few clients for most of their operating profit. Of those clients, the two biggest, Apple and Qualcomm, supply a majority of Samsung's contract manufacturing bulk deals. This means that any change to those deals could seriously hurt Samsung's bottom line, and leave their factories underutilized, which could affect worker morale. Despite good relationships with their current contract grantors, reliance of that sort on anybody, in the tech world, is a bad situation. That situation is changing, however, with Samsung pursuing a new "Open Foundry" movement.
Leading up to the big reveal and starting to take contract offers from smaller customers, Samsung has already hosted a Silicon Valley event for potential customers on April 19th of this year, and another event in Pangyo, South Korea on July 6. At these events, they announced that they would begin taking new clients, and showed off some new tricks for their foundries. Not content to let their reputation say the rest for them, sources indicate that Samsung will be holding another event in Shanghai on August 30. Sasmsung will be opening up a huge number of their existing processes to customers, and taking custom orders.
Ahead of the official launch of "Open Foundry", Samsung has already started to get some new customers. One, Above Semiconductor, reportedly plans to leverage Samsung's unique mastery of the 65-nanometer e-flash process to move in on the 32-bit microcontroller market. Samsung will also be partnering up with a number of South Korean and foreign chip design partners to help plan out the processes for custom orders. Samsung's new strategy to diversify their chipmaking contracts should lead to more efficiency in the facilities, and a slightly better profit margin on their contract manufacturing business for chips in general. At the moment, a date for the switch to be flipped and Open Foundry to officially kick off has not been revealed, but since Samsung is planning to focus on clients in the US, Korea, and China, the Shanghai event may well be when they give a date.