updated 03:30 pm EST, Thu December 16, 2010
Sharp building LCD plant with iPhone as focus
Sharp is spending the equivalent of $1.2 billion on an LCD factory that will primarily serve Apple, reports from Japan's Nikkei maintained on Thursday. Similar to a Toshiba plant mentioned by the same business paper, the Sharp plant would focus on small and mid-size LCDs but focus primarily on serving the iPhone. Apple would even take on most of the cost of establishing the factory, the paper claimed.
The plant would begin construction next year in Mie Prefecture and would be in full production by the second half of 2012.
Sharp isn't believed to be a stranger to supplying Apple with displays and has supplied the LCD for the iPod touch. Sharp has also served its own ends and uses a 3.5-inch, 640x960 display in its own smartphones. The soon-to-ship Meizu M9 is thought to use the exact same Sharp screen.
How accurate the claim would be isn't known. Toshiba didn't deny its establishing a factory or an iPhone focus but said Apple wasn't paying for the construction. Sharp hasn't had an opportunity to comment but may be in a similar position.
The combined production is designed to help fuel Apple market share growth, the paper said. Apple may be hoping to avoid the supply limitations that affected the iPhone 4 this year, where LG Display may have been the primary bottleneck on the number of units that could ship. The American company shipped 14.1 million iPhones in the summer alone and said during its fiscal results call that it could have shipped and sold more if factories could keep up.
Android phone manufacturers have also faced display constraints, though usually due to Samsung's lack of major AMOLED production capacity rather than sheer popularity for any one model. The Korean firm may have to make LCD-based Nexus S versions in the UK and has already had to push HTC towards LCDs to reserve enough AMOLEDs for itself.