updated 01:56 pm EDT, Thu May 24, 2012
May bring new display tech to future products
Just two months after Foxconn bought a 10 percent stake in Sharp, the two companies have announced a collaboration on a plant in Chengdu, China that will be used to build iPhone displays and potentially displays for other products. Foxconn will build the plant, and Sharp will assist by supplying technology, which may be used to further expand its ability to produce displays using its IGZO formulation, along with possible poly-silicon LCD screens.
Sharp has been promoting both technologies over the past year, and was said to be supplying Apple with IGZO screens for the then-forthcoming 2012 iPad. Stories appeared that Sharp was unable to manufacture the displays to Apple's specification, either for quality or quantity reasons. The company is now supplying some third-generation iPad displays.
Sharp is likely positioning itself to play a greater role as a display supplier for Apple, even if only as a supplier of current-technology displays. Apple may be looking to reduce its dependence on Samsung as a component supplier as its competition in the smartphone and tablet arenas increases.
Sharp will also play a role in "quality management" at the new facility. Foxconn and Sharp already co-own a liquid crystal manufacturing plant in Sakai, Japan. Foxconn's investment in the ailing display maker is said to be wroth $808 million. Sharp has been hard-hit by drops in television manufacturing.