Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Times on the iPad's expensive Korean innards

The Times has an interesting article (I do say that a lot, don't I?) on the components that make up Apple's latest paradigm-shifting device, the iPad, and how this new life-changing gadget itself represents a paradigm shift of sorts:
The electronic viscera of the iPad reveals a technological power shift: the most expensive and sophisticated components inside Apple’s new gadget are no longer Japanese but Korean.

Analysts calculating the raw cost of the items within Apple’s device believe that the bill for materials amounts to $260 per unit, or $239 less than its retail price in the United States.

Suppliers vary across the range but, in some iPad models, more than half of the component costs borne by Apple will go directly to South Korean companies, say analysts.
The article explains this as a move away from Japan, to South Korea (and Taiwan). It goes on:
In the case of the iPad it is clear that South Korean companies have made a clean sweep of the most lucrative parts. The Korean company LG Display makes the LCD screen on which the device is based — a component representing about a quarter of the total bill of materials. Samsung is identified as the producer of the costly NAND flash memory, the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and, most probably, of the central processor designed by Apple.

Teardown analysis of consumer electronics devices — from the Nintendo Wii to a Samsung camera — have usually confirmed Japan’s prowess at component making. Even cheap Chinese televisions often source components from Japan, underscoring the quality of the country’s manufacturing even as its brands are suffering. But as the digital era has progressed, the component food chain has broadened and Japan’s rivals have grown more competitive.
While the K-blogs are full of commentary about how threatened South Korean companies feel by the iPad and the iPhone, I've never been particularly convinced, especially since the guts of these items are so Korean, like sundae. However, The Times thinks there's some there there in Korea Inc's uneasiness:
The success of component-makers in winning their spot inside the iPad has not been greeted with universal joy in Korea. Analysts are worried that the dominance of the iPhone in the smartphone market presents atough challenge to similar devices produced by the likes of Samsung and LG. The iPad’s status as a rival to netbooks could also deprive Korean manufacturers of sales of one of the few devices that sold well during the slump after the financial crisis.
True, I suppose, but one thing I've seen is that Korean companies often need such competition to put their feet to the fire. And rest assured, not everyone wants to buy an iPhone or an iPad, so there's room for worthy challengers.


  1. The Times article is quite prescient in that discussion of Korean technology in terms of it's hardware skills beating Japan. But it's not enough. Korea needs to compete on the software side as well, something Japan has always and continues to do well.
    That being said, and regardless of whether a Korean company could ever come up with a game changer like the iPad, it goes to show that a rising tide lifts all ships and the experience here will show of in domestic products a couple of generations down the line.
    God I want an iPad!

  2. Ipad will succeed in Japan.?
    i dont know.

    Fujitsu F-04B is so popular now





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