Foxconn, Sharp talking new joint venture based on shared LCD plant
Two Apple suppliers -- Japanese TV maker Sharp, and Hon Hai (also known as Foxconn) -- are talking about a deal that would allow Sharp to spin off its display panel supplier business into a new joint venture with the China-based manufacturer. The two companies already run a LCD panel manufacturing facility in Osaka, and the new deal would like be an expansion of that existing partnership, possibly along with other companies.
Pebble Time enters mass production, software improvements detailed
The Pebble Time has entered mass production, the company has announced. In an update on the recent Kickstarter page for the smartwatch, shipments of the devices are expected to start from mid-May. As for the functionality of the smartwatch when it arrives, Pebble advises the new timeline interface, expanded app storage, a new Sports app, and voice replies to Android notifications will be available from day one. Planned future software updates will introduce the option for voice responses to Gmail notifications in iOS, a voice notes and stocks app, an album art view for the Music app, and a weather watchface.
High 4K resolution smartphone screen going into production next year
Sharp has unveiled another high-resolution display for smartphones heading into production in the future. Following on from the earlier 4.1-inch, 2,560x1,600 screen, offering a pixel density of 736 pixels per inch (ppi), the new panel measures 5.5 inches but boasts the ability to display a 4K image, with its 2,160x3,840 resolution giving it an impressive pixel density of 806 ppi.
Super Slim TV measures only half an inch thick
While the main focus of Sharp's morning keynote was the new Beyond 4K Ultra HD TV, some time was also spent showing off an upcoming Super Slim 4K set. While most details are still unknown, the TV will become available towards the end of 2015 in a 70-inch model. The Super Slim model will very closely mirror the features found in the also-announced UE30 and UH30 TVs, but in a form factor that measures only half an inch thick (excluding the set mount). Beyond Sharp's own SmartCentral 4.0 platform, the Super Slim TV will also include Google's Android TV.
Pixel splitting technology brings near 8k resolution
During its morning press conference at CES, Sharp unveiled its new Beyond 4K Ultra HD TV. The new TV uses a combination of the company's pixel splitting and Quattron technologies to pack 66 million subpixels into a single 80-inch panel. By splitting pixels in half vertically, and allowing each subpixel to create its own color value, Sharp claims the display can reach a resolution that begins to approach 8K (7680 x 4320). The company, however, did not give an exact resolution that the panel can display.
Compact high-resolution smartphone display entering production in 2016, Sharp claims
The continued trend for higher-resolution smartphone display panels continues unabated, with Sharp revealing its latest high-resolution LCD screen. The panel, using the company's IGZO technology, manages to fit a resolution of 2,560x1,600 into a display measuring just 4.1 inches, giving it an extremely-high pixel density of 736ppi.
Tablet should be thinner, faster, equipped with Touch ID
Supply firms are ramping up production for the second-generation iPad Air, sources say. The people indicate that touch panel makers like TPK and GIS are receiving Apple orders for full-lamination units. Sharp, Japan Display, and LG Display -- typically believed to be the tablet's main LCD suppliers -- are also reportedly receiving an uptick in orders, but for the iPhone.
Sprint launches Sharp Aquos Crystal with slim bezel design
Sprint has confirmed it will carry the recently-announced Sharp Aquos Crystal smartphone on its network. Boasting a 5-inch 720p display with minimal bezel and mid-ranged specifications, Sprint will be selling the Aquos Crystal for $240 off-contract and $10 per month under Easy Pay, while the prepaid brand Boost and Virgin will both offer it for $150. Sprint did not advise of when the Aquos Crystal will be available, but the Japanese launch earlier this week points to a release on August 29th.
Wins out over Samsung, Sharp, Japan Display
Apple has picked LG Display as its primary supplier of display panels for the iPhone 6, according to supply chain sources cited by Chinese site Feng.com. The firm is said to have beat out Samsung, Sharp, and Japan Display for the bulk of orders. Otherwise, however, it's not specified what the balance will be. The implication is also that Sharp is indeed in the supply chain, despite a May report claiming it had been dropped in favor of Innolux due to quality control problems.
Slim-bezel Sharp Aquos Crystal may arrive in United States tomorrow
Sharp has created two new Aquos smartphones with an extremely minimal bezel, giving the appearance of an edge-to-edge display. The Aquos Crystal and the Aquos Crystal X, with respective 5-inch 720p and a 5.5-inch 1080p displays, will both be going on sale in Japan, with at least one of the devices heading to the United States in the near future.
Firm looks to become more independent
Sharp is offering Apple 30 billion yen, or about $293 million, to buy the equipment in the former's Kameyama Plant No. 1, says Nikkei. In 2012, Apple contributed about half of the 100 billion yen ($986.7 million) that was necessary to switch the factory from producing TV panels to iPhone displays. As a part of the deal, Apple claimed ownership of the plant's hardware.
Could make Sharp more integral to Apple supply chain
Apple's main assembly partner, Foxconn, is in talks to use Sharp technology to help build iPhone and iPad displays, says Taiwanese publication the United Daily News. Sharp is one of several companies already involved in producing displays for Apple products; if Foxconn itself can build displays, though, it could reduce supply bottlenecks, streamline development, and/or reduce Apple's dependence on other panel suppliers, which include LG Display, Japan Display, and Samsung.
Other parts to follow
Displays for a second-generation iPad Air should enter production later this month, followed shortly by other components like camera modules, claims Korean site ETNews. Apple is expected to stick to the same 9.7-inch 2048x1536 panels it used with the Air. LG Display will reportedly lead production, followed by Sharp and Samsung in July.
Synaptics seen as leading candidate instaead
Negotations between Apple and Renesas Electronics for a potential buyout of Renesas SP Drivers have broken down, according to Reuters. As a result, Renesas is said to have shifted focus to another potential investor, Synaptics, a fellow smartphone chip supplier. Renesas SP Drivers is a joint venture with Sharp and Powerchip that develops display drivers and controllers.
LG, Japan Display said to be companion suppliers
For the upcoming 4.7-inch iPhone, Apple has picked a Taiwanese LCD supplier -- Innolux -- over Sharp or Samsung, according to a Taiwanese newspaper, UDN. Innolux is claimed to be Apple's third display provider for the phone after LG Display and Japan Display. Sharp is believed to have been ruled out because of quality problems during test production, while Samsung may have been dismissed simply because of Apple's desire to distance itself from its main rival.
Could improve image quality, battery life on future devices
Apple is in negotiations with Japan's Renesas Electronics to acquire a unit of the company, says Nikkei. In particular Apple is said to be after Renesas SP Drivers, a joint venture with Sharp and Powerchip that designs chips for smartphone displays. The takeover deal would involve buying up Renesas' 55 percent stake at an estimated price of 50 billion yen, or roughly $479 million.
4.7-inch phones first, 5.5-inch phone 'could be delayed'
Apple's suppliers should start mass production of next-generation iPhone displays in May, in preparation for a launch expected this fall, according to supply chain sources in contact with Reuters. In keeping with earlier rumors, the suppliers are said to include Sharp, LG Display, and Japan Display. The sources claim that 4.7-inch displays should enter production first, while 5.5-inch screens could be delayed. Reuters describes both sizes as belonging to the iPhone 6, but it's unclear if Apple itself will use the same distinction.
Will allegedly assume some of Sharp's orders
Samsung is set to become a display supplier for the iPad mini in the second half of 2014, says Korea's ETnews. Apple currently relies on three companies: LG and Sharp for Retina displays, and AU Optronics for non-Retina panels. AU Optronics is expected to be dropped from the supply chain entirely, while Sharp will allegedly see its orders cut back, the lost share being handed over to Samsung.
Television range uses sub-pixels to help display 4K content on 1080p panel
Sharp has started to ship a range of 4K-supporting, sub-4K-resolution televisions the company launched at CES in January. The Quattron+ collection, part of its 2014 Aquos range, is capable of playing Ultra HD content, but does so using a 1080p panel that employs Sharp's "Revolution" technology, splitting pixels in two to provide 16 million sub-pixels, giving it an "effective resolution of 3840x2160."
Aquos lineup gets updated for 2014
During its CES keynote, Sharp announced the next developments for its range of large screen Aquos TVs. Throughout 2014, Sharp will be updating its entire line with the introduction of new models in its Aquos HD, Quattron, and 4K lineups. Furthermore, a new Quattron+ model, which has been designed to bridge the gap between Full HD and 4K, was also announced alongside a new SmartCentral TV platform.
WiSA-compliant Sharp Blu-ray player ships this spring
Sharp has revealed its Universal Player and Wireless Bridge at CES, with the company claiming it to be the first Wireless Speaker and Audio (WiSA) Association-compliant universal player system. The SD-WH1000U's support for the WiSA open standard means that it is capable of streaming uncompressed 24-bit 96kHz sound and 1080p video wirelessly to a compatible receiver.
19 hardware partners lined up to support standard for YouTube
Google's YouTube will be showing of a 4K-capable video codec, VP9, at next week's CES in Las Vegas, according to GigaOm. The format is being presented as an alternative to H.265, and will be open and royalty-free. To avoid the lack of support that killed off Google's VP8, the company has signed up 19 hardware partners, including Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, ARM, Intel, Broadcom, and Marvell. At CES, 4K YouTube steaming will be demonstrated at booths belonging to LG, Sony, and Panasonic.
Ultra high-resolution Sharp displays show up in Apple online stores
A number of Apple's online stores have begun selling 4K monitors made by Sharp, it was revealed on Friday. A 32-inch version of Sharp's PN-K321 monitor showed up at Apple's UK online store recently, retailing for £3,499. The move likely signals the impending availability of Apple's new, redesigned Mac Pro.
Apple allegedly turning to Samsung for help
Anticipated shortages of the Retina iPad Mini are linked to burn-in problems Sharp is having with its IGZO LCD panels, an industry source claims. The burn-in is thought to be caused by malfunctions in thin-film transistors. The source notes that while the burn-in is invisible to the eye, it still doesn't meet Apple's quality standards.
iPad Air thought to be unaffected
Low display yields at Sharp are behind predicted iPad mini shortages, Taiwanese supply chain sources claim. The company is said to be responsible for about 40 percent of the Retina displays for the new Mini, while LG Display handles the majority. LG is using an a-Si manufacturing process; Sharp is using oxide TFT.
Product would allegedly ship in first half of 2014
Officials from Apple met with peers at Corning, Foxconn, and G-Tech Optoelectronics in the US about two weeks ago to talk about the production of a TV set, according to sources for Taiwan's Economic Daily News. Foxconn is reportedly asking Corning to share some data about Gorilla Glass with G-Tech, so that the latter can do surface treatments needed to produce the set. G-Tech is relatively unknown in the West, but was once rumored to be behind the anti-reflection glass for the 2012 iMac.
IHS accounts may dispel notions of delay
Display production levels for the second-generation iPad mini are paralleling those of the first-gen model last year, says research firm IHS iSuppli. "Based [on what] we are seeing in the [production] pipeline...The volumes are similar to the iPad mini that we saw in Q4 of last year," explains one of the firm's directors, Vinita Jakhanwal. The claim would appear to dismiss rumors of delays pushing production back to November, and a launch even further.
Legal troubles having no effect
Despite legal battles between the two companies, Samsung is actually gaining ground as a display supplier for Apple, says NPD DisplaySearch. Samsung shipped more 9.7-inch iPad panels in April and June than Apple's other major display partner, LG Display. NPD notes moreover that Apple been increasing its orders since January; whereas it picked up 2.3 million panels from Samsung in the first quarter, shipments rose to over 4.1 million in Q2.
Quarterly loss considerable year-on-year improvement from $1.2B
Sharp has reported an improvement in its financial situation in its latest quarterly results, as the company fights to shake off the monetary issues endured in the last year. While it managed to report a loss of 19.9 billion yen ($182 million) for the quarter, it is a significant improvement from the $1.2 billion loss it endured last year.
Samsung could be replacement
As a result of the latter's production problems, Apple won't be taking on AU Optronics as an LCD supplier for the second-generation iPad mini, says ETNews. LCDs for the first-gen Mini are provided by AUO, Sharp, and LG Display. Apple has reportedly forged a deal with LG for the next Mini, and is thought likely to take on Sharp again, since it can provide low-power oxide semiconductor panels.
iPad, MacBooks expected to adopt technology
Apple is planning to expand its adoption of IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) displays to new iPad and MacBook models coming within the next year, industry sources tell etnews.com. The company is reportedly talking to LCD panel makers like Sharp and LG Display about the prospect. The IGZO-equipped MacBooks will reportedly ship in the first half of 2014.
High-resolution 4K monitor includes 10-point multitouch, stylus control
Sharp is introducing a new LCD touchscreen monitor with the ability to show 4K-resolution images, following on from its earlier non-touch version. The PN-K322B Ultra HD monitor has an IGZO display panel measuring 32 inches, and is mounted on an adjustable hinge, allowing its 10-point multitouch to be used, as well as its dedicated touch pen with a tip width of just 2mm (0.08 inches).
Passed THX 4K certification tested upscaling of HD content
Sharp will launch its first THX-certified 4K-resolution television in the United States in August. The 70-inch Aquos Ultra HD LED TV, the larger of two models announced for sale in Japan last month, will also be the first television of its type to have the visual certification, thanks to it passing through four hundred performance tests.
Device could grow as large as 5.7 inches
Apple is considering a range of possible options for expanding its iPhone lineup in 2014, say four sources for Reuters, some of which are said to be with Asian suppliers. The people claim that Apple is considering two bigger iPhone sizes, including 4.7- and 5.7-inch dimensions. Suppliers have reportedly been approached with plans for the bigger screens, but whether or not they'll make it into shipping products is uncertain. "They constantly change product specifications almost to the final moment, so you're not really sure whether this is the final prototype," one source says.
HDTVs with 4K resolution includes Moth-Eye anti-reflection layer
Sharp is preparing to sell a pair of Ultra HD TVs in Japan, under the Aquos UD1 banner. The LC-60UD1 and LC-70UD1, measuring 60 inches and 70 inches respectively, both take advantage of Sharp's previously-demonstrated "Moth-Eye" technology, which uses a special layer above the LCD panel to significantly reduce glare, internal reflections, and light scattering.
Panels boast highest pixel density of any display Sharp has made
According to Sharp, the company will begin production of three types of IGZO LCD panels that boast pixel densities among the highest in the industry. The panels, scheduled to begin production in June 2013 are intended for use in notebook PCs and will come in three sizes: 11.6 inches, 14 inches, and 15.6 inches. A 13.3 inch panel is already being produced by the company.
List includes nine smartphones, one tablet, one Raku-Raku device
Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has revealed the lineup of mobile devices that it will start offering over the summer. Eleven models make the cut, including nine smartphones, one tablet, and one "Raku-Raku" simplified smartphone. Notable additions include a new Sony Xperia smartphone, the Aquos Phone Zeta, and the Aquos Pad tablet from Sharp.
Manufacturer aims for small annual net profit following massive loss
Troubled electronics manufacturer Sharp has reportedly had its largest yearly net loss in its century-long history. The losses of 545 billion yen ($5.3 billion), which is higher than any other result in its last 100 years of doing business, with management at the company also seeing a reshuffle in another attempt to rectify its finances.
Three-year plan will halve employee count at head office
Sharp will be drastically cutting its number of employees over the next three years, as part of a plan to financially rectify itself. Out of the 51,000 currently employed by the company worldwide, Sharp will be reportedly cull 5,000 jobs across the board, with its main office in Osaka, Japan losing approximately half of its workforce.
Report conflicts with other rumors, reflects late-summer release
As talk of the next iPhone model -- which will arrive in June, July, or August depending on which supplier report one wants to believe -- heats up, rumors and reports from component suppliers and other sources often contradict each other on timetables. This confusion reinforces Apple CEO Tim Cook's statements that any one bit of information -- even if true -- was unlikely to provide the proper context given Apple's complex supply chain. That said, a source in Japan has reported that Sharp will be ramping up display units for the iPhone 5S next month.
New loans and extensions puts sharp 800 billion yen in debt
A pair of Japanese banks are considering a 100 billion yen ($1 billion) bailout loan to Sharp, to help it meet an upcoming bond redemption. The electronics manufacturer has nearly $2 billion in convertible bonds, similar to Apple's current offering, maturing in September. Lenders Mizuho Corporate Bank and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ are also giving Sharp an extension on 360 billion yen in lending that matures in June. The offerings by the banks puts Sharp in the red to the two banks to just over $8 billion.
Tablet expected to be thinner, Mini-like
Mass production of the fifth-generation iPad is only slated to start in a July-August window, say DigiTimes sources in Taiwan-based supply companies. The people add that the display is expected to be manufactured by Sharp and LG Display, while touch panel assembly will be done by TPK, and ITO thin film will come from Nitto Denko and Teijin. Some earlier rumors had an iPad announcement taking place as soon as this month.
Sharp to fail in defining display specifications in time, $60M delayed
A $60 million payment to Sharp from Qualcomm as part of an investment agreement has been delayed, due to a looming deadline set to be missed. The second half of the $120 million deal had a number of requirements in order to be paid on time, including making an operating profit in the second half of its financial year, holding net assets worth at least 100 billion yen ($1.05), and to prepare for the production of new display panels, requirements which Sharp has failed to accomplish.
Deal sees Samsung own over 3-percent of Sharp
Sharp has received an investment of 10.4 billion yen ($112 million) from Samsung, in exchange for shares. The deal, confirmed through Sharp in a statement, sees Samsung taking ownership of newly-issued shares from the company, giving it the equivalent of 3.08-percent of the overall shareholder voting rights.
LG, Sharp tapped as panel suppliers
The fifth-generation iPad will use the same G/F2 (DITO) thin-film touchscreen format as the iPad mini, claim industry sources for DigiTimes. The fourth-gen model uses a more conventional G/G touchscreen arrangement, but the sources suggest that Apple may feel it has enough supply of DITO to carry it over to the flagship iPad. The technology could help make the tablet even thinner and lighter than it is currently.
iPad mini may be diverting demand
Sharp has "nearly halted" production of 9.7-inch screens for the iPad, Reuters reports. Two industry sources for the newswire agency say that on the iPad line at Sharp's Kameyama plant, production has dropped to the minimum level needed to keep it moving, after a gradual slowdown that started at the end of 2012. Apple is reportedly managing its inventory.
Phone allegedly seeing 'weaker-than-expected' demand
Apple is slashing its parts orders for the iPhone 5 due to demand falling lower than expected, say Wall Street Journal sources. For the current quarter Apple has reportedly cut screen orders to about half of what it had originally planned for. The sources note that Apple told suppliers about reduced orders last month; one source elaborates that more than just screens have been affected. Sharp, LG Display, and Japan Display Co. are allegedly the main suppliers for iPhone 5 screen panels.
Foxconn to handle stateside production, AU Optronics to do IGZO
A pair of unconfirmed reports from the sometimes-accurate Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes claims that Apple is exploring the idea of moving Mac mini production to a Foxconn Electronics facility in the US, and that Apple is evaluating switching its iOS devices to IGZO display panels in a rollout of revisions across 2013. Sharp, the company behind the IGZO technology, has allegedly licensed Innolux Corporation and may possibly add AU Optroics to help produce displays.
No LCD supplier lined up, source says
A new report by Focus Taiwan -- an English service of Taiwan's national news agency -- is disputing some recent claims about Apple's expected HDTV. Sources close to Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, support the notion that the manufacturer is testing several TV designs. One source argues however that it's unlikely that the TV will ship in 2013, something some analysts have previously called for.
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