The fact that Apple can make or break a company has been the topic of many articles in the blogosphere lately. Once a major Apple supplier, Taiwanese group Wintek has closed two plants, cut 7,000 jobs, and left unpaid suppliers to chase debts of $37 million, according to the Financial Times. In the US more recently, GT Advanced filed for bankruptcy because of a failed partnership with Apple.
The Taiwanese Wintek was once a major iPhone 4 and iPad touchscreen supplier. But then Apple switched technology with the iPhone 5 in 2012, and since it focused on the new devices, it obviously reduced its reliance on Wintek.
As of 2014, the Apple supplier list still contains Wintek, but it only mentions the Suzhou facility, not any of the Dongguan plants.
We can’t say with 100% certainty that this was the reason for Wintek’s $96 million loss in the first half of this year ($320 million for last year), but we can safely assume that the lack of Apple orders heavily contributed to the company’s failure. Wintek sought bankruptcy protection in October in order to find a way to restructure debts that are close to $1 billion ($961 million). This amount is owed to both local and mainland lenders and suppliers.
As Jerry Chen of Laibao High-Tech points out, such incidents are common in the industry.
“It mostly has to do with the growing competition and lower margins. Before there used to be two to three companies sharing a single order and now there may be as many as 10,” he said of the sector’s fierce competition.
However, he doesn’t think Wintek’s technology is obsolete: it’s the leading technology in “on glass solution” OGS touchscreens. Still, it’s a sad story.