Excerpt from a timely Apple profile
There are several reasons why Apple's tablet prices are so hard to beat. It can cut out the middle-man by selling directly to customers through its retail stores, it has mastered the logistics of global manufacturing and shipping, and it controls all aspects of its device's design (including the OS and processor), a feat no other manufacturer can claim. But perhaps the most important reason is the unparalleled size of its operation. During a conference call with investors in January, Apple's chief operating officer Tim Cook reported that the company had spent nearly $4 billion on several "strategic" long-term contracts for specific electronic parts. He didn't say which components those were, but last week DigiTimes, a Taiwanese publication that covers Asian manufacturing companies, reported that Apple had purchased 60 percent of the world's supply of touchscreen glass panels—the major component for iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches.