Apple Inc has hired an executive from Samsung SDI Co, the battery-making subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co, to help run its own battery.
Soonho Ahn joined Apple in December as global head of battery development, having served as a senior vice president at Samsung SDI since 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile. At Samsung SDI, Ahn led the development of lithium battery packs and worked on “next generation” battery technology, the profile says.
Apple and Ahn did not respond to requests for comment. Samsung is Samsung SDI’s largest shareholder and the company’s largest customer, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Apple has used Samsung SDI batteries to power its own products in the past. The iPhone maker has tried to reduce reliance on third-party components, and the notable hiring of battery technology suggests it could be doing the same for batteries. Apple has been working on its own MicroLED display technology for future devices, which would help to abandon Samsung in other areas. It is also increasingly building its own processors and investigating the development of its own cellular modems.
Apple has also been in talks to buy cobalt, a key component of battery packs, directly from miners. As device makers launch products with similar functionality, differences in key features like battery life and performance are becoming increasingly important, and Apple is looking for a competitive advantage in those areas.
Samsung SDI is also looking for cobalt sources.