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Apple and Samsung find breaking up is hard to do

The Wall Street Journal is reporting, following years of unsubstantiated reports from anonymously sourced tech blogs in the far east, that Apple has finally inked a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) to manufacture the series A-x chips that power Apple's mobile devices.

This month, after years of technical delays, Apple finally signed a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to make some of the chips starting in 2014, according to a TSMC executive. The process had been beset by glitches preventing the chips from meeting Apple's speed and power standards, TSMC officials said.

Despite the deal, Samsung will remain the primary supplier through next year, one of these executives said.

Ah yes, Samsung.

Apple and Samsung certainly make strange bedfellows to the extent that Apple is one of Samsung's biggest customers and yet the two companies are currently embroiled in patent litigation that spans multiple continents.

Apple has been using Samsung to supply it with mobile components for some time now, but once Samsung started, dare I say, copying the iPhone's look and feel, Apple began trying, as best as it could, to lessen its reliance on Samsung.

Breaking away from Samsung completely, however, hasn't been easy, or at the very least, practical.

Apple has cut back on some purchases. It no longer buys iPhone screens from Samsung and has reduced iPad screen purchases, suppliers say. And Apple has been buying more flash memory chips -- an essential component for storing data -- from other makers, say former Apple executives and officials at another chip supplier.

But Apple remains critically dependent on Samsung. The microprocessor brains that control iPods, iPhones and iPads are Samsung-built. And some new iPads still use Samsung screens, according to examinations of the devices by industry analysts.

It's no secret that Apple likes to have as much control over their products as possible, and it must irk Apple to no end that they continue to enrich a company that they feel "slavishly copied" their most popular and profitable product.

If we've learned one thing from Google's foray into the mobile market with Android, it's that Apple doesn't take too kindly to once-friendly companies who turn into competitors. With the the rollout of Apple's homegrown Maps app in iOS 6 and the eradication of YouTube from the default iOS homescreen, the iOS home screen has been effectively wiped clean of all Google properties. That's not a small point given that Google CEO Eric Schmidt was actually invited up on stage when Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone back in 2007.

So, for now, Apple remains a top Samsung customer, contributing billions upon billions to the Korean-based company's bottom line. But if history is any indication, and if the report from the WSJ is in fact accurate, that won't be the case for too much longer.

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