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Conflicting rumors say Sharp may be out as iPad 3 supplier

updated 07:00 pm EST, Thu January 12, 2012

Samsung, LG step in to provide new displays

A new rumor (amid conflicting reports) now contradicts an old rumor: Sharp, said to have been the beneficiary of a long-term investment worth nearly $4 billion by Apple at the beginning of the year to make new-technology screens for future devices, is now reported to be out of the running for screens on the expected iPad 3 due to either a failure to meet supply requirements or simply didn't make the cut in terms of quality. Samsung and LG are said to now be providing new higher-rez displays for the iPad 3.

Among the sources contradicting each other are Japanese blog Macotakara, Korean sources Electronic Times Internet News and trade site Digitimes, The Wall Street Journal and US iOS news site iLounge, the latter of which claims to have handled an iPad 3 prototype at the CES show running this week in Las Vegas. The WSJ, Digitimes and Macotakara seem to be sticking with their earlier reports that Apple plans to use Sharp's 2048x1536 IGZO display, a newer technology that Sharp has been working on made with indium, gallium and zinc. ETIN and others have said that while this may have been the original plan, Sharp "failed to pass Apple's approval process for mass production" of the panels, which would have used substantially less power.

Reports that Sharp would be making panels for the iPad 3 first emerged in November when a Piper Jeffries analyst claimed that the company would allow Apple to provide 330 dots per inch of resolution without the need for dual-bar LED backlighting, dramatically cutting the power needed to run the display as well as allowing for an even thinner casing. All sources agree that the next iPad is likely to have approximately double the current 1024x768 resolution and be better able to handle and create HD video.

The Korean Electronic Times Internet News cites an unnamed "industry source" as saying that Apple is expected to manufacture 65 million iPad 3s through 2012, with Samsung and LG supplying displays for the initial launch but not saying whether the two companies would continue manufacturing displays beyond that period. Both Sharp and a number of its competitors are said to be capable of making IGZO displays if Apple is indeed planning to use the technology. The new reports could also be deliberate attempts at "misinformation" to preserve surprise.

The iLounge report suggests that the iPad 3 will be slightly thicker than the current model, suggesting that the company may be holding onto traditional LCDs with LED backlighting for the time being if the prototype turns out to be accurate. The site did get an early look at a prototype case last year that turned out to be genuine for the iPad 2.

Macotakara reports that Foxconn and Pegatron will split manufacturing and assembling duties on the rest of the production run of the iPad 3, which is speculated to be appearing in March (following last year's March launch of the iPad 2). It adds that production is already underway, with Foxconn taking 85 percent of production and Pegatron taking the rest, similar to the production split on the iPhone 4S. The next iPad is also widely expected to sport a new processor, the A6, which is said to be a quad-core processor, and potentially a new graphics system with significantly faster graphics to stay ahead of competitors.

by MacNN Staff



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