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Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 04:29 pm PT (07:29 pm ET)

Rumor: Apple reportedly looking to Samsung for thin glass LCDs

Faced with the need for thin glass for use in iPhone, iPad, and MacBook LCDs, Apple has reportedly turned to rival Samsung's display division to fill its component needs, reversing a trend that has seen the iPhone maker slowly move its supply chain away from the South Korean tech giant.

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Tuesday brought word of Apple's alleged reversal, which is said to have reinvigorated the thin glass market in South Korea, according to ETNews. Demand for thin glass, which is a major component used in LCD displays for mobile devices and ultra-thin notebooks, is expected to grow to $464 million in 2013, up 34 percent year-over-year.

That increase stems largely from the massive popularity of both Apple and Samsung products. The two companies sell more phones and tablets than any other manufacturers.

In the past, Apple and Samsung collaborated much more closely, with Apple inking lucrative deals with Samsung for numerous components that went into its iPhones and iPads.

Now, though, the two are fierce rivals, continually fighting out patent issues even as they compete in various markets around the world. Apple in recent months has been distancing itself from Samsung, trying to move as much of its sourcing away from its chief competitor in order to lessen the possibility of Samsung gaining foreknowledge of its products.

Samsung Display, though, has a considerable stable of thin glass vendors, each of which has seen explosive growth as mobile devices gain popularity worldwide. Additionally, the South Korean company may be one of the more reliable component suppliers. Recent reports have indicated that, despite having achieved certification for iPad mini LCD panel production, AU Optronics — another supplier Apple has relied upon in lieu of Samsung — has been experiencing problems ramping up to mass production levels.

As Tuesday's report was light on specifics, it is difficult to determine whether Apple is only sourcing LCDs from Samsung until it can find another capable supplier or whether the company has decided to start a longer term relationship.