Most phone manufacturers source their components from many different suppliers. But Samsung, a large, diversified manufacturer of many different kinds of electronic components, has used its significant capabilities to supply itself with many of the key parts inside most versions of the S4 phone sold around the world.
“Samsung’s strength is this ability to in-source to itself,” IHS analyst Vincent Leung said in an interview. “They just keep adding to the list of components that they can supply to themselves.”
One key component that Samsung did not supply to itself for versions of the phone being sold in the U.S. was the main applications processor. U.S. versions of the phone contain a Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, which contributes $20 to the overall cost.
Versions of the phone sold in Korea and other markets around the world contain a Samsung-made chip called the Exynos 5 Octa that costs $28. Samsung is known to be manufacturing at least four variations of the phone for different market geographies around the world, including at least two being sold in the U.S., one going to AT&T and T-Mobile, and another going to Verizon Wireless and Sprint, said Andrew Rassweiler, another IHS analyst.
“Samsung is demonstrating its ability to suit the tastes of carriers in different regions of the world,” Rassweiler said. “It comes down to what the market is willing to spend on the features offered.”
The fact that Samsung used the Qualcomm-made chip is a testament to the U.S. chipmaker’s prowess. “Even with all the vertical integration it’s doing, it’s not like Samsung has given up on Qualcomm,” Rassweiler said.