Apple is the world’s most valuable company. A big part of the reason it got there was the introduction of the iPhone. In every iPhone is a lithium-ion battery. Indeed, battery life is a core value proposition and competitive differentiator for phones. It is rumored that Steve Jobs kept Flash out of the iPhone because it took too much battery life, and that move effectively killed Flash in the long run. So Apple gets the importance of batteries and thus the importance of lithium-ion. And a core component of lithium-ion batteries is cobalt.
How important is cobalt to Apple, the world’s most valuable company? So important that it is looking to procure it directly from mines themselves. All of which massively drives the demand for cobalt since Apple’s competitors also need to worry about how they will get access to the precious mineral.
When thinking of Apple’s competitors it is easy to think of Samsung or LG but you should also include in that BMW and Volkswagen. Electric car makers need cobalt too and in fact they need much more of it than smartphone makers. Rumors of an Apple Car by 2020 are only pouring more gasoline on that fire.
One issue for public companies such as Apple is political and social risk in their supply chains. Indeed, Apple has suffered numerous public relations disasters from conditions of plants they sourced from in China. Unfortunately, 60% of the cobalt reserves are in Democratic Republic of Congo, where there are issues such as child labor which could leave a black eye on such companies. As a result it is preferable if companies could source the cobalt from North American or European mines to the degree possible.
So the war is on for first-world cobalt and Apple is in the driver’s seat, chased by their many competitors, across several industries, all of which is driving global demand. For more information on this trend and others, download our free guide: 5 Trends That Will Drive Cobalt Prices to The Moon in 2019 and How You Can Capitalize.