AWT News Update: January 6, 2017

Today's news from the world of Apple:

  • MacBook Pros may be announced later in 2017 that use a new display technology for significantly better battery life and resolution
  • An Apple supplier reports great earnings, all from sales of components for the iPhone 7
  • Canada's Competition Bureau quietly ends a 2-year anti-competition probe after finding insufficient evidence that Apple was engaging in anticompetitive conduct

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below.

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for January 6, 2017.

Apple and other device manufacturers switch technologies used in their products as new materials and methods make things more efficient and, in the case of displays, more impressively clear. IHS reported today that Apple will start a shift to Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide — what we’ll call IGZO — for MacBook Pro displays later this year. The displays will be produced for Apple by Samsung and Sharp, with Sharp having produced this type of display for five years now. The material is used in iPads at this point, but it could improve battery life and make displays brighter. IGZO uses less power, has improved touch sensitivity, and can have increased pixel density over the amorphous silicon used in today’s screens. IHS thinks that Apple will order 9.7 million MacBook Pro display panels in 2017, and if a switch is made to IGZO displays in the second calendar quarter of the year, we might see the new display in new MacBook Pro models in the second half of 2017. Aren’t you glad you waited to buy one?

Speaking of components for tech products, financials from Largan Precision — which produces iPhone 7 camera modules for Apple — reported its best revenues in over a year citing strong orders from Apple. The good numbers show revenues up 36.9% year over year, and are almost entirely due to the iPhone 7 modules. This report contradicts recent news of Apple cutting orders for the iPhone, and may point to those cuts being due to seasonal drops in demand rather than an unpopular phone. Largan is apparently a favorite Apple supplier, by the way. Last summer, Apple was reportedly pressuring suppliers for lower component prices and Largan was excluded from those discussions.

Apple has been the subject of various anti-competition and antitrust investigations over the past few years, but one of those probes has been shut down today. Canada’s Competition Bureau said that there was insufficient evidence that Apple had engaged in anticompetitive conduct in promoting the iPhone to Canadian wireless carriers. A short statement heralded the end of the two-year investigation, saying that there were no terms in wireless carrier deals that resulted in any significant effect to competition. When the investigation started, the Competition Bureau accused Apple of using its force in the marketplace to demand that carriers sell competitive products at inflated prices, and there were concerns about limitations Apple put on marketing and sales of iPhones by the carriers. Similar investigations are being made into Apple’s dealings in France and South Korea, and may come to the same conclusions found by the Canadian Competition Bureau.

That’s all for today; I’ll be back Monday afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.