There are intricate relationships in the technology sector. The relationship between Apple and Samsung Electronics is also strained.
While Apple has relied on the Korean electronics giant for years to supply essential components for the iPhone, it has also engaged in a protracted legal battle against Samsung, accusing it of infringing on Apple patents with its own line of smartphones. Five years ago, the two companies settled their legal disputes, and Apple found new suppliers for memory chips and other Samsung components, such as processors, or replaced them with its own designs.
Apple remained dependent on Samsung for displays for iPhones and other devices, making a complete breakup impossible. The result is an abnormally tense work environment.
According to multiple former Apple employees, Samsung so mistrusts Apple — which is attempting to find alternatives to Samsung’s displays — that it prohibits Apple engineers from entering Samsung factories.
Apple engineers flew from the United States to South Korea in 2017 to meet with employees at Samsung’s display division, but were told they were not welcome inside its facilities, including its office buildings, due to Samsung’s need to protect its intellectual property regarding organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) screen technology. According to a former Apple employee briefed on the matter, Apple’s engineers were forced to speak with their Samsung counterparts remotely from their hotel rooms in South Korea.