[FoRK] Microsoft's reality problem

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Fri Feb 5 13:29:43 PST 2010

mdw at martinwills.com wrote:
>> A good high-level summary of the problems.
>> http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/microsofts-reality-problem-238?page=0,2&source=IFWNLE_nlt_daily_2010-02-05
>> ...
>>> A third reality disconnect: The notion that Microsoft has made
>>> computing easy and ubiquitous for the masses.
>>> Microsoft designs software under the assumption that everyone who uses
>>> it is either a gibbering simpleton or an engineer -- so it vacillates
>>> between condescending and pointless dialog boxes and incomprehensible
>>> error messages, with few stops in between.
>> sdw
> hmmm, when did Microsoft start building hardware (e.g. desktop computers,
> tablet computers, smart phones etc..)?  They are a software company and
> what hardware they do build (keyboards, mice, xbox etc) is actually built
> by someone else...
> --Martin--

They set the pace for innovation by deciding what they support, how well 
it works, etc.  And with the level of contracts they had with 
manufacturers in the past, it has often been a little gray.

Anyway, Apple doesn't build hardware either.  They are a software and 
design house that has very good and tight contracting along with great 

> Who makes the iPhone? If you answered 'Apple', you're wrong. The 
> iPhone is a global effort. Tens of thousands of people at more than 30 
> companies on 3 continents work together to make Apple's first phone 
> possible.
> Apple, of course, designs the product, and also created the single 
> most important 'component' – the software that gives the iPhone its 
> unique personality.
> iPhone launch But, while Apple gets the credit, behind the scenes 
> there are a host of other players, each of which has to build and 
> deliver complex parts on schedule to make the iPhone possible.
> Some of them are well known names, like US-based Intel, which supplies 
> the NOR flash chips which hold the iPhone's updatable system software; 
> and Korea's Samsung, which makes the video processor IC. Two famous 
> names from consumer electronics, Japan's Sharp and Sanyo Epson, are 
> among the suppliers of the phone's bright 3.5-inch display.

>  Unknown suppliers
> Then there are the unknowns, each of which plays a small but vital 
> role. Ever heard of Balda AG? Chinese factories owned by this German 
> firm make the touch sensitive modules which are fixed onto the 
> iPhone's LCD to make its innovative multi-touch control possible. It's 
> also Balda's technology which allowed Apple to switch to a tough 
> scratch-resistant glass screen, to avoid the complaints over 
> scratching that tainted the iPod Nano launch.
> Another low profile firm, the UK's Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), is 
> the creator of the iPhone's Bluetooth module, in a deal that 
> reportedly earns the integrated circuit design house $1.20 for each 
> iPhone made.
> You might have heard of the companies behind a few of the other iPhone 
> chips – if you've ever wrestled with network driver installation on a 
> PC. Marvell designs the WiFi chip, for example. Broadcom, best known 
> for its networking chips, is the company behind the specialized 
> interface chip that interprets the movement of your fingers on the 
> multitouch screen.
> While these chips are designed in Europe or the US, most of them 
> aren't made there. Instead they are rolling off production lines in 
> Asia, from companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co 
> (TSMC), undoubtedly the world's biggest unknown chip maker, or its 
> slightly smaller rival, United Microelectronic Corp (UMC) – both 
> companies are based in Taiwan.
> The distinctive aluminum and stainless steel iPhone case is also made 
> by a Taiwanese firm, Catcher Technology, according to analysts in Taiwan.
> Final assembly mystery
> No matter where the iPhone's myriad components are made, they all end 
> up in one place: the factories of a lead contractor whose identity is 
> now something of a mystery. Apple's iPod manufacturing partner, 
> Taiwan's Foxconn, was long rumored to be the company that assembled 
> the hundreds of components into a sleek iPhone. However, Foxconn's CEO 
> recently surprised investors by telling them that these reports were 
> incorrect, according to Reuters. Another likely Taiwanese candidate, 
> Quanta, is rumored to be working on the iPhone, but only on the next 
> generation, so-called 'iPhone 2.0'.
> Analysts in Foxconn's home base of Taipei however, still confidently 
> list Foxconn International Holdings as the iPhone's assembler, despite 
> the company CEO's apparent denial. Whoever the assembler is, it is 
> there that the chips are planted onto printed circuit boards supplied 
> by Taiwan's Unimicron Technology Corp. Then all the components are 
> fitted into the metal and plastic case to make a completed iPhone, 
> ready for shipment to the US.
> A second 3G iPhone?
> During recent months, sources at a few of the component manufacturers 
> named in this article have told regional media that Apple appears to 
> be working on two different iPhone designs. The key feature attributed 
> to 'iPhone 2.0' is 3G, as well as the GSM standard supported by the 
> original iPhone. At least one of the smaller components suppliers has 
> reportedly already delivered parts for this forthcoming product.
> iPhone Primary Contractors  - a partial list Software and design    
>  Apple     USA
> Assembly     Foxconn?, Quanta, Unknown     Taiwan
> TFT-LCD Screen     Sanyo Epson, Sharp, TMD     Japan
> Video processor chip     Samsung     Korea
> Touch screen overlay     Balda     Germany
> Bluetooth chip     Cambridge Silicon Radio     UK
> Chip manufacture     TSMC, UMC     Taiwan
> Baseband IC     Infineon Technology     Germany
> WIFI Chip      Marvell     USA
> Touch screen control chip     Broadcom     USA
> CMOS chip     Micron     USA
> NOR Flash ICs     Intel, SST     USA
> Display Driver chip     National Semi, Novatek     US, TW
> Case, Mechanical parts     Catcher, Foxconn Tech     Taiwan
> Camera lens     Largan Precision     Taiwan
> Camera module     Altus-Tech, Primax, Lite On     Taiwan
> Battery Charger     Delta Electronics     Taiwan
> Timing Crystal     TXC     Taiwan
> Passive components     Cyntec     Taiwan
> Connector and cables     Cheng Uei, Entery     Taiwan
> Note: This article is based on information supplied by KGI Securities, 
> CLSA Asia-Pacific, published media reports, and other sources in Asia.
> Update June 30: Some of the first iPhones sold have been dismantled, 
> and more information about components is emerging. For example, iFixit 
> identifies Samsung as the manufacturer of the main NAND flash chips, 
> and SkyWorks as the designer of the mobile radio amplifier. Think 
> Secret has also carried out an iPhone teardown - in the linked photo 
> the large chip at the bottom of the shot is the Samsung flash chip.


More information about the FoRK mailing list