In northern Taiwan, Apple has opened a secretive new production laboratory that will be used to develop new innovative display technologies. The lab currently has at least 50 engineers and other workers, and it will focus on creating new screens for iPhones and iPads to compete with companies like Samsung.
The company is also receiving assistance from Qualcomm and local display company Optronics in developing the screens. The laboratory building was previously owned by Qualcomm, who had owned the building since 2008.
Apple started conducting work in the laboratory earlier this year. The company has been striving to make its products thinner, lighter, brighter and more efficient when it comes to energy.
At the lab, engineers are working to develop more advanced versions of LCD displays. Such displays are already used in iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. Apple is reportedly making use of organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), which will allow for a thinner screen while eliminating the need for a backlight.
For years, Apple has been able to constantly upgrade its iPhones and iPads with new models for consumers to purchase. With each upgrade, buyers are promised a sleeker, slimmer and more durable design. This has helped Apple achieve a total of $178 in annual sales from the two products.
If Apple is able to produce its own displays, it can greatly reduce its reliance on other companies such as Samsung, LG and Sharp. Instead, the company would develop its own in-house production process and possibly even outsource its screens to smaller manufacturers.
Evidence suggests that Apple is making the development of its displays a top priority. In addition to the new laboratory, the company has apparently been searching for display experts to hire. Apple has stated on LinkedIn that it is looking for engineers to work at its various display panel facilities.
The new laboratory is indeed very secretive. It is located in the Longtan Science Park of Taiwan, tucked between a forest and a construction site for an upcoming biotech factory. The laboratory shows no signs of being owned by Apple. It is located more than 30 miles from downtown Taipei.
Being located in a seemingly random spot with little outside signage, it really seems as though Apple wants the public to acknowledge the building as little as possible. Even on the inside, there are few indicators of the company. The company even went as far as to instruct the outside building guards to not give out any revealing information.
With very little known about the factory, it appears that Apple is keeping its development of OLED technology top-secret. Currently, Samsung is one of the few suppliers that is able to offer smartphones with OLED displays. These displays are typically more costly than LCD displays. For now, Apple is doing everything it can to catch up, even if it means creating a secret lab.