Quan raises $1.15M from YC to tackle post-pandemic employee burnout

With post-pandemic burnout on the rise, the shift to remote working, and the ‘Great Resignation’ now passing into the lexicon, companies are struggling to hold onto talent.

Culture platforms like Culture Amp and Glint were built for a different era, offering insights and reports to HR, but many are less tailored to 2022. And employee well-being is still going up the agenda.

New startup Quan has raised $1.15M in pre-seed funding from Y Combinator, along with a Netherlands-based impact fund and several unnamed angels to address the gap between engagement surveys and well-being perks.

The first female-led Dutch startup to be accepted into YC, founders Arosha Brouwer and Lucy Howie say they researched the issue with doctors, psychologists, and therapists to identify over 20 sub-dimensions of well-being underpinned by more than 200 predictors.

Quan launched its beta product in March 2021, and says it is now working with 12 organizations, over 1,000 paid users and a platform engagement rate of 88%.

Brouwer told me: “For far too long, players in the ‘people and culture platforms have been measuring ‘employee engagement’ and ‘employee experience’ without providing ways to effectively manage well-being and linking it directly to business metrics. Hence the reason why issues such as burn-out and toxic corporate cultures have been trending in the wrong way. Quan knows that to effectively fix a social problem we have to make it a financial problem (or incentive) too. The cold hard truth is we get companies to care about their employees when they can directly measure how it impacts their bottom line.”

Quan is now offering a free access trial for company leaders.

Sonnet unveils new adapters for connecting two displays to an M1 Mac


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Sonnet has announced new dual display adapters that can allow M1 Mac users to connect two monitors to their devices using a single port.

The Sonnet DisplayLink Dual DisplayPort adapter for M1 Macs comes with a captive cable with a USB-A connector, though it also includes a USB-A to USB-C adapter. It can connect with a compatible USB or Thunderbolt port for bus-powered usage.

A DisplayLink adapter can allow users to connect a pair of 4K displays using a single port. The adapter supports displays with resolutions of 3840 x 2160 and refresh rates of 60Hz.

Sonnet says the adapters are aimed at owners of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, both of which only include two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports. Using the DisplayLink adapter means that users can still set up a dual-monitor workflow despite the M1 chip limitation on external USB displays, with another port freed up for charging.

Users can connect the adapter directly to their MacBook devices, or to a hub connected to their computers. The adapter also supports audio playback through the display cable. Since the Sonnet adapters are DisplayLink accessories, users will need the proper drivers to run displays on it.

The Sonnet DisplayLink Dual DisplayPort retails for $149.99 and will become available from the company in the first week of February.

Messenger upgrades its end-to-end encrypted chat experience

Although default end-to-end encryption won’t fully arrive on Facebook Messenger until sometime in 2023, the company says today its feature offering end-to-end encrypted group chats and calls in Messenger is now fully rolled out. In addition, Messenger is adding another security feature with the launch of screenshot notifications in end-to-end encrypted chats, similar to rival Snapchat, that will alert you if someone snaps a photo from Messenger’s disappearing messages. Users will also now be able to add GIFs, stickers, and reactions to their encrypted chats, too.

Support for end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) group chats and calls was first announced in August 2021, promising Messenger users a way to keep their personal conversations safe from criminals and nation-state surveillance. Many governments, however, have not necessarily been on board with the idea, saying that Messenger’s plans to expand its encryption efforts would complicate law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes. But Meta has pushed back, noting that E2EE was already widely used by apps like WhatsApp and was becoming an industry standard.

E2EE for group calls and chats wasn’t fully launched at the time of last year’s announcement, though. Instead, Meta said it would first begin testing the feature for friends and family who already had an existing chat thread and were already connected. It also said it would begin a test for delivery controls that would work with E2EE encrypted chats, allowing users to prevent unwanted interactions so they could decide who went to their chat list, their message requests folder, and who couldn’t message you at all.

Now, months later, the feature is fully rolled out to Messenger users globally, who can choose to turn on E2EE for their private conversations.

Soon, Messenger will also warn users if someone screenshots a disappearing message in E2EE chats. This is the same feature that’s already offered in Messenger’s vanish mode — a feature that functions much like Snapchat, where messages will disappear after they’ve been seen. If someone takes a screenshot of a vanish mode chat — and now a disappearing message in E2EE chats, as well — you’ll receive a notification so you can address this with the other party, or even block or report the conversation if need be. The company says these notifications will roll out “over the next few weeks.”

Image Credits: Meta

Finally, E2EE chats will also gain access to other features that have been available to non-E2EE before, including GIFs, stickers, and reactions, as well as support for replies to a specific thread, typing indications, and forwarding options. Verified badges will also be available to E2EE chats to help you identify authentic accounts, when chatting. And users will be able to save media with a long-press and edit photos and videos before sending. These features are not new, but they’re new to end-to-end encrypted chats.

Image Credits: Meta

Meta says all the features are available on all platforms, including web and mobile, for all users. But the rollout is ongoing, so some people won’t see all of the features immediately.

Subscript wants to rid the world of subscription revenue metric spreadsheets

Sidharth Kakkar knows all about the pain of relying on a giant spreadsheet. While building his previous company, Freckle Education, it got to the point where the master spreadsheet full of data that everyone was using would not load anymore or would crash the computer.

His company eventually was bought, but that pain point stuck with him, so when Kakkar left, he started doing discovery interviews on how other companies dealt with what he called “spreadsheet nightmares.”

“One of my favorites was a CFO who took a company public, and on the roadshow, people would ask for all of these cohorts, and his team would go nuts putting them together just for the roadshow and literally never did anything with them again,” Kakkar recalled.

That’s when he and Michelle Lee, his first bizops hire, decided to start the subscription intelligence startup Subscript in December 2020. Targeting subscription-based SaaS companies, Subscript develops APIs that grab data from CRMs, general ledgers and billing products and organizes it so the data is not only easy to find, but provides up-to-date subscription revenue metrics.

Kakkar says subscription business has been on a “ridiculous tear” recently, but while they like the idea of returning or recurring customers, not everyone wants to use the language of subscriptions to make business decisions.

The company, still in beta, brought in $3.75 million in seed funding, led by First Round, with participation from 40 angel investors, including Plaid CTO Jean-Denis Greze, Pilot founder Waseem Daher, CircleCI + Dark founder Paul Biggar, Postman’s head of growth Jesse Miller and Gusto’s head of growth Allen Wo.

Subscript

Subscript product dashboard. Image Credits: Subscript

Subscript creates custom data pipelines, and the pipelines create what he called a “revenue source of truth” in Subscript. For example, if someone closes a deal in Salesforce for $1 million in bookings, the system will separate out what is considered one-time revenue and recurring revenue. The finance person will have the final say on what they are seeing.

From there, the user can slice and dice the data into what they need for investors, board of directors and leadership teams to make data-driven decisions.

“You can have the big decision points that leadership teams are looking at and also use it for course-correction,” Kakkar said. “Sometimes you don’t know in the middle of a quarter whether you’re going to hit your number, where you’re headed and how things are going.”

Subscript is working with 21 customers right now, including Circle and Flipcause, and is tracking over $100 million of customers’ revenue. Kakkar said that is a number the company looks at internally as an indication of the scale of the business.

The company is opening up its beta and will use the new funding to build the team and product. Due to still being early in the journey and building a complex product, Kakkar said adding more people will be key in engineering and market support fictions.

As more companies structure their business models to accommodate the type of recurring customers that subscription-based businesses have, Subscript is seeing how expansive the opportunities are for accommodating those types of ideas, like usage-based billing.

“That model is becoming really common,” Kakkar added. “There is a depth of complexity in those types of businesses that we are diving headfirst into, but it’s impossible to do it without software.”

Offers on Google Play: a new destination to find great deals

Since 2012, Google Play has been a one-stop shop for discovering and enjoying your favorite apps, games and digital content. This week we’re launching “Offers” — a new tab in the Google Play Store app to help you discover deals in games and apps across travel, shopping, media & entertainment, fitness, and more. The rollout is underway and it will be available to more people in the United States, India and Indonesia over the coming weeks, and more countries later in 2022.

With Cloud the Norm, Insiders Are Everywhere — and Pose Greater Risk

Organizations dealing with insider threats spent $15.4 million on average during 2021, a 34% increase from 2020, and required 85 days to contain each incident, according to a survey of 1,000 information technology and security professionals released on Jan. 25.

The survey, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by enterprise security firm Proofpoint, documented 6,803 total insider incidents, including those caused by negligent employees, malicious insiders, and the theft of credentials by outside hackers. Because companies have accelerated their move to cloud services in the wake of the pandemic, the theft of credentials has become a more common — and the most expensive — insider threat, nearly doubling in frequency over the previous year.

The move to remote work and cloud services has changed the way that companies have to watch out for insider attacks, says Ryan Kalember, executive vice president of cybersecurity strategy for Proofpoint.

“The relationship with the employer is different, and the set of technical controls you use to identify those incidents are different,” he says. “There are no classic insider risk program elements when you are not all going to the same office, and can say, ‘Oh, that guy is acting funny.’ You can’t do that when everyone is meeting over Zoom all day.”

Based on a sample of 278 companies, the survey found that the insider attacks cost companies in North America the most, with the average firm in that region paying $17.5 million per year; the financial services industry had the greatest cost, with each company paying $21.3 million on average, according to the report.

Overall, 43% of the cost from insider threats was due to negligent employees, 27% due to malicious insiders, and 30% due to credential theft. The most common insider incident, negligent insiders, accounted for 56% of the incidents but cost the least — about $485,000 — to remediate on average, while the least common type of insider incident, credential theft, which accounted for 18% of incidents, cost the most, at $805,000.

Both the frequency and cost per incident of insider threats have increased over time, Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said in a statement.

“We are seeing the risk of malicious insider threats increase — with more users accessing business data from outside the confines of the office,” he said. “This can blur the security team’s ability to identify and differentiate between well-meaning employees and malicious insiders trying to siphon sensitive business data.”

User-Credential Theft
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the theft of an employees credentials remains the most significant threat.

More than half of security professionals (55%) interviewed during the survey consider the theft of an employee’s valid credentials as the most significant concern, while about a quarter (24%) worry about criminal or malicious insiders and a fifth (21%) worry about careless or negligent employees.

“Someone loses control of their credentials, especially things like VPN credentials, that is just a nightmare to track down,” says Proofpoint’s Kalember. “It’s not a traditional insider threat, but the compromised insider caused one of the more painful incidents because of how VPNs work in a work-from-anywhere world. It is hard to take those legitimate set of creds and figure out everything that was done with it to make sure that data was not lost.”

Malicious insiders, the second most common threat and second most expensive to remediate, generally used email to steal sensitive information. About two-thirds of professionals indicated that email contained the most sensitive data, including personally identifiable information (PII) and intellectual property. Email is also used to exfiltrate data, with about three-quarters (74%) of respondents believing that malicious insiders used email to send sensitive data to third parties.

The average incident took 85 days to resolve, with a little more than half of companies taking from between one month and three months to resolve an insider attack, according to the survey. Only 12% of companies mitigate an insider incident in less than a month.

Most companies have focused on using data loss prevention (DLP) tools, privileged access management (PAM) software, and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) systems to mitigate the risk, according to the survey. About two-thirds (64%) of respondents use DLP systems to prevent access to and exfiltration of sensitive data, while 60% closely manage highly privileged accounts using PAM software.

Business disruption accounted for nearly a quarter of the cost (23%) of incidents, while technology accounted for 21%.

Disney+ is expanding to 42 more countries this summer

Disney+ is launching in 42 additional countries and 11 territories in Europe, the Middle East and Africa this summer. Notable new countries include South Africa, Turkey, Poland and the United Arab Emirates. The streaming service is currently available in 64 countries, including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Disney hasn’t specified the exact dates that the service will launch in these new countries and hasn’t shared information regarding regional pricing, but will likely do so in the coming months.

The full list of new countries includes Albania, Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vatican City and Yemen.

In terms of the new territories, the list includes Faroe Islands, French Polynesia, French Southern Territories, St. Pierre and Miquelon Overseas Collective, Åland Islands, Sint Maarten, Svalbard & Jan Mayen, British Indian Ocean Territory, Gibraltar, Pitcairn Islands and St. Helena.

News of the expansion comes as Disney recently revealed that it plans to more than double the number of countries Disney+ is available in to over 160 by its fiscal 2023. The company plans on expanding its direct-to-consumer streaming business to more global markets and is creating a new International Content and Operations group to aid in this push. The group will be headed by nearly 25-year Disney veteran Rebecca Campbell, who will focus on local and regional content production for Disney’s streaming services, while also overseeing Disney’s international teams.

As of the end of fiscal 2021, Disney says it had 179 million total subscriptions across Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. The company notes Disney+ hit 118 million subscribers globally in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Disney+ launched in late 2019 and has spent the past couple of years competing with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and several other streaming services. For context, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are available globally, with a few exceptions. Netflix isn’t available in China, Crimea, North Korea, or Syria, whereas Amazon Prime Video isn’t available in Mainland China, Iran, North Korea and Syria.

Europe clears Facebook-Kustomer with API access commitments

The EU has cleared Meta/Facebook’s acquisition of CRM maker, Kustomer — accepting a set of commitments from the tech giant to allay competition concerns linked to the fact it also owns a suite of popular messaging apps frequently used by small businesses for customer outreach (aka Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp). 

The Commission said Meta had guaranteed non-discriminatory access without charge to public APIs for the aforementioned messaging channels to competing customer service CRM software providers and new entrants.

Meta has also offered what the Commission describes as “a core API access-parity commitment” — meaning it has pledged to maintain the same level of feature capabilities for Kustomer rivals/new entrants in the event that it enhances or otherwise expands the functionality of Messenger, Instagram messaging or WhatsApp.

So, basically, Meta has committed not to cut off access to or freeze the competition’s ability to keep pace with its messaging platforms’ feature sets.

The two access commitments each have a ten year lifespan.

The Commission notes that a trustee — to be appointed before the transaction can close — will monitor the implementation.

“To fulfil its duties, the trustee will have far-reaching powers, including access to Meta’s records, personnel, facilities or technical information, and can appoint a technical expert to assist in the performance of its duties,” it writes in a press release.

“The commitments also include a fast track and binding dispute resolution mechanism that can be invoked by third parties. They also include the requirement for Meta to publish details of relevant APIs and functionalities on its website, in addition to quarterly reporting to the monitoring trustee on any ongoing beta testing of new messaging features.”

The Commission’s decision to clear Facebook-Kustomer is conditional upon full compliance with the commitments, it adds.

The Facebook-Kustomer acquisition would not normally have triggered an investigation under EU merger rules, given the revenue thresholds involved in the deal not being high enough.

However, in response to rising concern about tech giants using M&A to crush competition — aka so-called ‘killer acquisitions’ — the bloc recently expanded the ability for concerned Member States to refer deals for scrutiny. So Austria referred the deal to the Commission for investigation, with Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania also joining the request — suggesting a fairly broad concern.

“The Commission assessed the impact of the acquisition of Kustomer by Meta within the territory of these Member States under the EU Merger Regulation,” the Commission notes, before going on to say it concluded that the proposed transaction “as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns”.

The UK’s competition watchdog (CMA) had already cleared the Facebook-Kustomer deal — last fall.

Although, in a major reversal of the usual tech M&A playbook, the CMA ordered Facebook to undo its acquisition of animated GIF platform, Giphy.

The UK’s competition watchdog is also in the process of consulting on whether to accept a bundle of commitments from Google related to its Privacy Sandbox proposal to deprecate support for third party tracking cookies.

So the rise of Big Tech M&A with caveats looks clear.

Even as regulators actually blocking tech giant’s acquisitions remains as rare as hens’ teeth.

(See also: The EU clearing Google-Fitbit — after it gave a ten year pledge not to use Fitbit users’ data for ad targeting, among other behavioural commitments.)

Privacy concerns had been raised over both the Facebook-Kustomer acquisition (given the latter has a number of customers operating in the health sector); and over Google-Fitbit (also on account it entailed an adtech giant buying up health data).

But competition regulators continue to be wary of joining the dots between access to data and market power. (With some honorable exceptions.)

The Commission says it did look at data issues in its competition probe of Facebook-Kustomer — writing that it investigated what information Meta would obtain from Kustomer’s customers.

Albeit, seemingly, the “data” scrutiny it applied was largely through a competition lens.

The Commission does argue that Kustomer, as a b2b provider, “does not own the data of its business customers” and that “access to data would be dependent on agreements with its business customers who need consent from their end customers”. 

Which looks very much like the EU’s competition division kicking the can on privacy concerns related to acquisition-enabled data access — which is highly problematic considering how sketchy EU ‘consent’ flows can be.

(This may also explain why the Commission has been cranking up the pressure on data protection regulators of late, urging “effective” enforcement of regulations like the GDPR.)

Instead, its PR quickly falls back to discounting data as a competition issue — “because of Kustomer’s small size, even taking into account its potential growth, the amount of additional data will not be significant” — which, again, simply glosses over any privacy concerns. (Yet a data breach under EU law does not have to involve large amounts of data to be considered a breach.)

The Commission’s assessment of Facebook-Kustomer also considered the market for the supply of online display advertising services — where it had raised preliminary concerns.

But, here too, it decided the merger was “not likely to lead to a significant impediment of effective competition”.

This component of its assessment also considered data — discounting any competition concerns by, suggesting: “[R]ival providers of online display advertising services have, and will continue to have, access to similar commercial data because of the strong commercial interest of businesses in sharing such data with both Meta and rival advertising platforms in order to measure and optimise the performance of their ad campaigns.”

The Commission’s reasoning here highlights the traditional tension between competition and privacy regulation — as it’s essentially leaning into a market dynamic (imbalance) fuelled by Meta, as one half of the adtech duopoly, who, along with Google, has leveraged data-fuelled market power and network effects to turn the mainstream web into a pervasive net for tracking and profiling Internet users, overriding any objections, to further empower their ad targeting empires.

Indeed, the pair have so much market power they can, Death Star like, suck other businesses’ users’ data into their tracking empires and ignore consumers’ objections to privacy-hostile uses of their data.

Yet that dynamic — the “strong commercial interest of businesses in sharing such data with both Meta and rival advertising platforms”, as it puts it — is being considered by the Commission as a reason to waive another Big Tech data-enriching acquisition through. Hmmm!

Looking ahead, competition regulation will — hopefully — get a lot smarter than this.

The EU and the UK both have plans for ex ante regulation of the most powerful platforms — with the EU’s “gatekeeper”-targeting Digital Markets Act, and the UK’s planned “pro-competition” reform — so a lot more operational conditions are set to come down the pipe. Although neither are yet in force.

Germany already has its own ex ante regime up and running. And, as a sign of what may be soon coming across the region — Google has been quick to try to settle a local antitrust probe of its News Showcase, by amending practices and offering future commitments around how it will operate the product to try to placate an empowered regulator.

More proactive competition regulation looks like it will play an increasingly important role in shaping behavior in digital markets.

What exactly that will mean for Big Tech’s competition — or for Internet consumers’ privacy — still isn’t clear.

Belkin BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad for MagSafe review: A pricey, but better option


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With a price tag pushing $60, Belkin has a lot to prove with its inelegantly-named BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad for MagSafe.

It’s taken well more than a year from MagSafe’s initial introduction to get our first third-party MagSafe cable. In that time we’ve seen the market inundated with cheap Qi chargers surrounded by magnets that pale in comparison to the real thing. This isn’t that.

Belkin worked directly with Apple to utilize official MagSafe components and received MFi certification in the process. This guarantees the highest degree of compatibility and will give you no issues with performance.

Apple has been playing things close to the vest as it doles out certification for MagSafe products and thus far only a small handful have become available from Belkin as well as Mophie.

Maxed out on MagSafe

Belkin has focused on all the ways Apple’s official puck falls short. Simply recreating Apple’s cable wasn’t going to cut it.

Belkin's MagSafe nylon-wrapped cable

Belkin’s MagSafe nylon-wrapped cable

Apple uses its typical white rubber-like material on the official MagSafe cable. Belkin rather has a thicker, nylon-braided cable that runs two meters, or roughly six feet. To help manage that cable, it features an integrated silicone cable tie with a plastic snap.

This cable tie is great to have but it is a little loose. We’d have preferred to see an adjustable tie that could be tightened to hold just part of the cable at once.

The hidden regulatory information

The hidden regulatory information

Upon examining the BoostCharge Pro pad for the first time, we loved its unblemished exterior. We then realized it had no regulatory information that is a requisite on consumer electronics. In what is a decidedly Apple-like move, Belkin hid all that information on the inside of that cable tie.

It’s a subtle but welcomed touch.

As it uses an official MagSafe puck, it can deliver up to 15W of wireless power to your iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 device. You’ll need to provide a USB-C power adapter, just as you do with Apple’s. It needs to be at least 20W to achieve the 15W maximum.

Belkin versus Apple MagSafe pucks

Belkin versus Apple MagSafe pucks

It’s a bit larger than Apple’s, which turns out to be a good thing. The added girth makes it much more comfortable to hold in your hand, even if it does take up a bit of extra space.

Since it is thicker, Belkin built in a metal kickstand. It pivots outward to prop up your phone on your desk, nightstand, or in bed. This is a perfect addition to the magnetic charger and comes as no surprise when other magnetic Qi chargers have been doing this for months.

Belkin's puck on our desk

Belkin’s puck on our desk

Belkin does do it better, though. It clicks into place so it won’t fall out, has a soft matte finish to the outside, and only has a small Belkin logo on the bottom.

But still… $60?

It still begs the question of how Belkin got to the lofty price of $59. We see it like this.

Apple’s official MagSafe puck is $39 for a shorter one-meter length. Belkin has doubled that two a lengthy two meters. Additionally, Belkin has opted for that nylon cable, a custom cable tie, and built-in kickstand. All of this contributes towards the $20 premium over Apple’s cable that Belkin has chosen to apply.

But Belkin also has additional costs compared to Apple. We don’t know the full requirements that Apple imposes upon its MFi licensees, for instance.

Watching AppleInsider YouTube on our iPhone while charging

Watching AppleInsider YouTube on our iPhone while charging

As much as we love the cable, we don’t know if it’s reasonable to justify dropping $59 for an iPhone MagSafe charging cable. There are plenty of other stands out there one could rely on as well as wired cables that can charge even faster.

Belkin's USB-C cable

Belkin’s USB-C connector

Should you buy Belkin’s BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad with MagSafe

We’re not going to loudly proclaim that you should run out and buy the latest BoostCharge offering, but we also have to recognize that Belkin has created a marginally better MagSafe cable than Apple has, depending on your evaluation criteria. Better or more full-featured products than Apple’s own — that still work well — is the entire point of the MFi program, after all.

Belkin versus Apple's MagSafe pucks

Belkin versus Apple’s MagSafe pucks

Belkin has taken Apple’s MagSafe charger and made it better. You’ll just have to pay a premium for it.

  • Braided cable is much stronger than Apple’s
  • Two meter cable length makes it easier to use plugged into an AC adapter in the wall
  • Kickstand is well-integrated and very useful
  • Fully MFi-certified MagSafe puck with up to 15W of power
  • Rounded back is comfortable to hold
  • Black option as well as white
  • $59 is steep price for a cable
  • And for that price, at a minimum, the cable tie should be more adjustable

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy

Apple evaluating Chinese display maker CSOT for potential OLED orders


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China-based display manufacturer CSOT is reportedly evaluating its production lines in a bid to supply iPhone OLED panels to Apple.

CSOT has reportedly formed a team to evaluate suitability of its production lines for OLED displays for Apple. According to The Elec, CSOT and Apple recently reviewed an OLED panel produced by its T4 factory in Wuhan, China.

The T4 facility, which can make Gen 6 flexible OLED panels, is designed to house three manufacturing phases that can provide a total of 45,000 substrates per month. Two of those phases are currently live.

Sources told The Elec that if the review OLED panels meets Apple’s standards, CSOT plans to invest in a demo line to make more. Once it evaluates the yield of that line, it will likely mull whether to try to make OLED panels for iPhones or to build yet another line for evaluation.

CSOT had previously supplied Samsung with OLED panels for its Galaxy M models in 2021. In 2022, it plans to produce OLED panels for the Samsung Galaxy A73.

The road to enter Apple’s supply chain won’t be an easy one for CSOT. The largest Chinese display maker, BOE, has struggled to meet Apple’s quality demands during evaluation processes.

Although BOE eventually won a contract with Apple, it wasn’t a straightforward process.

The Elec notes that it is “highly unlikely” that Apple will decide to include CSOT in its supply chain because BOE can already produce panels with the same specifications. In addition, Apple could use BOE as a leverage point to get Samsung Display and LG display to lower their prices.

BOE’s production capabilities are estimated to hit 144,000 substrates per month by the end of 2022. That’s triple the maximum capacity of CSOT’s factory.

CSOT isn’t the first company to go through an Apple evaluation process. In 2021, Chinese display maker Visionox also underwent an evaluation but ultimately failed to win OLED panel orders.