Apple suppliers Sharp, Foxconn in talks for LCD partnership - report

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2015
Japanese supplier Sharp is negotiating with Hon Hai Precision Industry -- better known as Foxconn -- on a deal that would see the former spin off its display panel business to create a new joint venture, according to a Monday report.




Under the proposed plan, Hon Hai -- and possibly other parties, including Japan's state-controlled Innovation Network Corporation -- would then make investments in the newly-independent LCD company, according to Reuters. In July, Sharp CEO Kozo Takahashi said that he was open to restructuring both the display and consumer product sides of the company in light of declining revenues.

Similar partnership talks have occurred sporadically for years. In 2012, for instance, Sharp rejected Foxconn overtures because of demands that Sharp argued would've surrendered too much control. The two corporations currently operate a large-scale LCD plant in Osaka as a joint venture.

The companies are key Apple suppliers, and just last week it was rumored that Sharp will be manufacturing displays for Apple's 12.9-inch "iPad Pro," while Foxconn will take on the tablet's touch module fabrication, lamination, and module assembly. Production of the device will allegedly scale up over coming months, resulting in 4 to 5 million units shipped by the end of 2015.

Apple is rumored to be launching the product sometime this fall, possibly at an October press event. It may distinguish itself from the iPad Air not just with a bigger screen size, but other features like a pressure-sensitive stylus and an enhanced version of iOS, for instance sporting a more expansive keyboard.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    About time Sharp got serious. We got IGZO addicts waiting for their next dose of IGZO.
  • Reply 2 of 14
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Margins on displays are too thin.  It's almost surprising anyone is still trying to manufacture the things.

  • Reply 3 of 14
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,483member
    cnocbui wrote: »
    Margins on displays are too thin.  It's almost surprising anyone is still trying to manufacture the things.

    After investing several hundred million or so in Sharp's IGZO, Apple is probably not going to let the manufacturers die.
  • Reply 4 of 14
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,483member
    About time Sharp got serious. We got IGZO addicts waiting for their next dose of IGZO.

    I personally don't own an IGZO device, so I don't know about this "next dose" business you speak of.

    It's been a long wait, that I agree with.
  • Reply 5 of 14
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,752member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post





    After investing several hundred million or so in Sharp's IGZO, Apple is probably not going to let the manufacturers die.

    They also invested around $300 million in the GTAT sapphire plant and we know how well that turned out.

  • Reply 6 of 14
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,483member
    canukstorm wrote: »
    They also invested around $300 million in the GTAT sapphire plant and we know how well that turned out.

    Yes, but that was with Americans, who are well-known incompetent bums. The IGZO investments were with a culture that's based on honor and hard work. : )
  • Reply 7 of 14
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,969member
    flaneur wrote: »
    About time Sharp got serious. We got IGZO addicts waiting for their next dose of IGZO.

    I personally don't own an IGZO device, so I don't know about this "next dose" business you speak of.

    It's been a long wait, that I agree with.

    The wait may have been too long. There's already new tech on the horizon that bests IGZO.
  • Reply 8 of 14
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,483member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    The wait may have been too long. There's already new tech on the horizon that bests IGZO.

    Which one(s) you mean? There are always some. The point is they're on the horizon, not ready for production in the millions at the right kind of price, and tested for years of reliability. And so on.
  • Reply 9 of 14
    LG and Samsung have the best display technology right now and producing high quality OLED screens. Sharp has no hope of catching them. If it weren't for the fact that Samsung and LG phones run Android, I'd have purchased them for their gorgeous screens.

    IGZO might perhaps improve an OLED display. However, Sharp has lost and lost big time with display technology. A partnership with Hon Hai is a means to leave the market all together and that is coming.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,483member
    herbivore wrote: »
    LG and Samsung have the best display technology right now and producing high quality OLED screens. Sharp has no hope of catching them. If it weren't for the fact that Samsung and LG phones run Android, I'd have purchased them for their gorgeous screens.

    IGZO might perhaps improve an OLED display. However, Sharp has lost and lost big time with display technology. A partnership with Hon Hai is a means to leave the market all together and that is coming.

    IGZO-backed OLEDs already exist, but I can't remember offhand who's using them for what.

    Sharp's problems are probably financial, not technical. Apple has very deliberately gone with improved LCDs using LTPS and IGZO for their own reasons. One could be that OLED life expectancy may not be proven yet. Another could be that there is not enough manufacturing capacity in the world to supply OLEDs to Apple without their being subject to price blackmail—or without LG or Samsung having immunity from Apple's price bargaining pressure.
  • Reply 11 of 14

    Quote:


     and just last week it was rumored that Sharp will be manufacturing displays for Apple's 12.9-inch "iPad Pro,"


    Every couple of months there is a rumor says that Sharp will be manufacturing displays for Apple's next product, and that didn't happen. I'm sorry but it seems that displays will be a South Korean (Samsung & LG) bussiness for long.

  • Reply 12 of 14
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post





    IGZO-backed OLEDs already exist, but I can't remember offhand who's using them for what.



    Sharp's problems are probably financial, not technical. Apple has very deliberately gone with improved LCDs using LTPS and IGZO for their own reasons. One could be that OLED life expectancy may not be proven yet. Another could be that there is not enough manufacturing capacity in the world to supply OLEDs to Apple without their being subject to price blackmail—or without LG or Samsung having immunity from Apple's price bargaining pressure.



    OLED life expectancy is good enough for TVs, so it isn't an issue for phones and tablets.  Why do you say Apple suppliers use blackmail whereas Apple uses bargaining pressure?

  • Reply 14 of 14
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,483member
    cnocbui wrote: »

    OLED life expectancy is good enough for TVs, so it isn't an issue for phones and tablets.  Why do you say Apple suppliers use blackmail whereas Apple uses bargaining pressure?

    Good point about big screen OLEDs.

    Manufacturers can blackmail Apple by witholding parts. Apple can only withold orders, and that isn't an existential threat the way witholding manufacturing capacity—parts—would be. I don't mean to say this is happening; it's just a hypothetical reason for why Apple can't go for OLED at this point when production is limited to two Korean competitor-suppliers.
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