SAMSUNG HAS SPENT a lot of money on technology that nobody has yet really asked for: the folding screen. All that R&D money was almost for nought though, as a supplier was allegedly trying to steal the technology to sell to a Chinese rival.
According to Bloomberg, eight employees and the CEO of Toptec Co Ltd have been charged by South Korean officials, an accusation the firm denies.
"Our company has never provided Samsung Display's industrial technology or business secrets to a Chinese client. Our company will fully cooperate with legal proceedings to find the truth in court," the company said in a statement.
Despite this denial, prosecutors allege that the CEO set up a fake company and then built the bendy screens in a different factory with plans to sell to a Chinese competitor.
The scheme was ultimately uncovered in a head-smackingly simple way: the supplier was found loading components onto a ship heading to mainland China. Considering how freakishly large the early folding phones look, it's hardly surprising they were spotted, though actually the components in question were said to be related to 3D lamination, which could feature OLED displays and adhesives used to create the bendy prototypes.
What isn't clear is which Chinese company was purchasing the ill-gotten loot. But Samsung isn't messing around, and given the investment, the South Korean giants have made in the technology, that's hardly surprising. It apparently took the company six years and around $134 million to develop the leaked technology.
The company told Bloomberg that it was "shocked at the results of the investigation by prosecutors, at a time when competitors are intensifying their technological rivalry." Imagine how shocked they'd be if the findings came at a time when competitors weren't "intensifying their technological rivalry."
None of this should stop Samsung from releasing its first folding phone in Q1 of 2019. It's chunky design and predicted $1,770 (~£1,370) price tag may also make it the last folding phone the company releases, but we'll see. µ
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