If you’ve been wondering just how important Apple is within the consumer electronics industry, then you don’t need to look too much further than this latest Digitimes report, where I’d urge you to read between the lines.

The report tells us that revenues among Apple’s touch panel suppliers are expected to continue to grow in Q4. This may be childishly self-evident to most of us, but you need to consider a second strand of data in the report.

Touch panel makers outside of the Apple supply chain are preparing themselves for seasonal decline in revenues, and while they have new products (ie, they have orders for panels for new future products) with which to console themselves in the looming holiday season, they don’t have Apple’s business to help them thrive. In any case, there’s no guarantee competitors will prevail.

“Apple’s suppliers are expected to not be affected by the traditional weak season and maintain growth in the fourth quarter,” the report tells us.

Volume shipments for tablet PCs are expected to start in 2011 — though the iPad is already making a significant contribution to touch panel sales. Indeed, such is the prevalence of the move to touch that suppliers generally are looking at new Q3 revenue records.

Beyond touch panels Apple’s importance to component makers is also reflected in the tiniest of details, take quartz components for example. TXC joined the Apple supply chain in Q3 2010, in just a few weeks, Quartz component orders from Apple have grown to account for 20% of the company’s revenues, with orders from Qualcomm and Broadcom also shoring up earnings.

This is the level of importance Apple has acquired across its supply chain, leading participants in that chain to agree to secrecy and revenue deals other companies cannot match, particularly to a background of declining PC sales.

Perhaps this is why Sintek denied recent touchscreen iMac rumors?

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