Samsung is demanding to see Apple's upcoming products as the legal melee between the companies escalates, and the schism between the competing allies widens.
The Asian consumer electronics giant is insisting access in hopes that it can better prepare its defense against any preliminary injunction motion brought against Samsung by Apple for trademark or trade dress infringement.
In recent weeks Apple has charged the rival with copying its product ideas, so its slightly ironic that the request for product access isn't Samsung's idea in the first place.
Apple last week asked a California district court to order Samsung to turn over a variety of its devices, including the to-be-released Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. The court agreed, but imposed the condition that only Apple's external lawyers would be allowed access to any of Samsung's pre-production products.
The Cupertino Calif.-based company wanted to ensure that its South-Korean frienemy wasn't infringing on any of its innovation after it said that Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products.
Since that April 15 lawsuit both companies have been taking shots at each other but with caution.
Apple makes the ubiquitous iPod media-player, and has jolted the mobile industry with its iPhone series of smartphones. It has since created the tablet industry from scratch with the launch of its iPad in 2010.
But the company relies on Samsung to make core components for all of these devices. At the heart of these devices is the A4 and A5 processors that Apple designed, but Samsung manufacturers. Apple also relies on Samsung to provide the DRAM memory in its devices.
While Apple has downplayed the rivalry publically, with COO Time Cook calling Samsung a valuable partner, its actions would indicate otherwise.
Court-room drama aside, analysts believe that Apple is also lining itself up to find another foundry partner, a move that sever the largest tie it has to Samsung.
That business could go to Intel as the two Calif.-based companies talk behind closed doors.
We believe that Intel has also stepped up its efforts to get into the foundry business. In particular, Intel is vying for Apple's foundry business, Piper Jaffray analyst Gus Richard told clients this week
Samsung appears already to be pushing out orders for equipment as customers re-allocate spending to other vendors. The move from Apple would not only free it from a taxing relationship, but serve a major blow to Samsung, who is already trying to manage overcapacity.
We expect to see cancellations in CY11:Q3 as Samsung's largest chip customers reallocate demand to other vendors, Richard says. In addition, capital spending at the foundries has been too strong for too long and we expect to see a pause in this market as well.
With Apple accounting for $5.68 billion, or 4 percent, of Samsung's $142 billion in revenue, last year, a shift in foundry's could mark the end of ties between the companies as relations continue to sour.