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Samsung poaches chip expert from Apple

Samsung has reportedly poached a chip expert from arch rival Apple in what is being described as an “unusual” appointment.

Kim Woo-pyeong has worked for Apple for the past nine years, following stints at Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. Now the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology graduate is moving over to Samsung to head up its new Packaging Solution Center in the Device Solution America (DSA).

According to Business Korea, such an appointment is considered “somewhat unusual” in the semiconductor business. This is because Apple and Samsung enjoy a “special relationship” that’s equal parts competitive and cooperative.

Samsung supplies many of the components that go into Apple’s iPhone and iPad lines, whilst simultaneously producing direct rivals to both. It’s a delicate balance, and it’s in neither company’s interests to upset the other by poaching senior staff.

According to the report, that last such case of senior staff poaching occurred around a decade ago, with Luc Julia defecting from Apple’s Siri team to the South Korean company.

This latest bold hiring move reflects the importance Samsung is now placing on packaging. Chip makers are struggling to get around the physical limitations inherent within chip development right now, so are reportedly turning to improvements in packaging technology. It seems Kim Woo-pyeong will be leading the charge on that front for Samsung.

Last month, Apple executive Greg Joswiak made headlines for directly attacking Samsung, calling the company “annoying” and saying that it “ripped off” Apple’s technology to produce a “poor copy” of the iPhone. Is this all a sign that the detente between Apple and Samsung is over?

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