Rumor mill: Apple to drop 3.5mm headphone jack, will move to OLED iPhone screens

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is reportedly planning to remove the 3.5mm headphone port from its upcoming iPhone and will instead connect headphones through Bluetooth or the company's Lightning charging port. Separately, the company is also rumored to be considering moving to OLED screens on its future iPhones, reportedly prompting South Korea's LG Display to invest $8.71 billion to build an OLED panel manufacturing plant.

The rumors come amid a Bloomberg report into Apple's research and development spending that shows the company generally spends less on R&D than its tech rivals, largely because the company relies on technological advances by its suppliers.

Apple generally does not comment on rumors or speculation about its upcoming products. The company is highly secretive about its strategy and plans, and likely as a result it is a subject of near-constant gossip. Many of the rumors over the years about the company's forthcoming iPhones have proven inaccurate (such as repeated reports that Apple would release cheaper iPhones) but an equally large number of claims have proven correct.

In this latest round of rumors, Apple is reportedly planning to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on its next iPhone in order to make the device thinner than current models. According to Japanese blog Macotakara, the company will instead connect earphones through its thinner Lightning charging port -- thus potentially tying users more tightly into its device ecosystem and gaining a degree of control over third-party headphone makers.

Separately, Japan's Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple is moving to OLED screen technology for its 2018 iPhone, thus motivating LG to invest in an OLED manufacturing plant. LG declined to comment on the report, according to Reuters. LG has already invested heavily on OLED technology for its TVs and said it would use the plant to build OLED screen across TVs, smart watches and auto displays.

The claims are notable in light of a Bloomberg report that said Apple spent 3.5 percent -- or $8.1 billion -- of its 2015 revenue on R&D. The publication noted that's less than any other large U.S. technology company tracked by Bloomberg. In comparison, according to Bloomberg, Facebook spent about 21 percent on its R&D, Qualcomm spent 22 percent and Google spent about 15 percent.

Citing Ram Mudambi, a professor at Temple University, Bloomberg said Apple in part relies on new technologies created by its component suppliers to advance its offerings. Apple will spend around $29.5 billion in the next 12 months on components such as chips, screens and other components, thereby creating a major incentive for component suppliers to attempt to win business through Apple with their innovations.

Apple is the world's second-largest supplier of smartphones, according to third-quarter numbers from research firm Strategy Analytics, commanding 13.6 percent of the market, behind Samsung's 23.7 percent.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Fortune article

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