A report that Elpida may have scored a major DRAM deal with Apple that would negatively impact Samsung has apparently forced the Korean chip company to accelerate its DRAM roadmap.
Samsung has said that it has begun shipping 4 Gb 20 nm mobile DRAM chips on Thursday. The Korea Times followed up by stating Samsung is sending those chips to Apple in particular -- a move that is reportedly ahead of schedule and possibly a sign that the company is looking to calm investors worried about Samsung's relationship with Apple.
Earlier in the week, there was a report that Apple may be shifting at least some of its DRAM orders from Samsung to Elpida and that the company bought up about 50 percent of Elpida's DRAM output. The report has caused Samsung's market cap to drop by almost $10 billion this week alone. There has been no confirmation from Apple or Elpida whether the shift has in fact happened, but it should not be surprising that Apple would consider other DRAM makers to diversify its suppliers, which not only guarantees supply, but offers leverage in negotiations. Apple has always acted in this manner and there is no reason to believe that it would change a winning strategy.
It's also no secret that there are tensions between Apple and Samsung due to lawsuits and counter-lawsuits. Apple is unlikely to be willing to fund its enemy and if it can move production volume away from Samsung, it probably will. Samsung's advantage is technology that is ahead of some of its rivals and that card may lure Apple back into the boat - or convince the company not to leave.