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Sharp and Japan Display to Compete for iPhone OLED Panel Orders in 2018

More OLED panel makers are gearing up to compete with Samsung and LG for orders from Apple as soon as this year, according to industry sources (via DigiTimes). Thanks to its existing production capability, Samsung was the sole supplier of OLED display panels for Apple's iPhone X in 2017, which left LG Display under pressure from Apple and scrambling to invest billions in its OLED manufacturing facilities in time to compete for the next round of orders. That investment appears to be paying off already, with LG Display reportedly in line to supply some OLED panels to this year's new range of iPhones, which is expected to include two new 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhone models with OLED displays. LG Display will supply Apple with the 6.5-inch OLED panels, while Samsung will supply the 5.8-inch panels, according to one report. Other suppliers now said to be jostling for third and fourth position in the OLED pecking order include Sharp, now a Foxconn Electronics company, and Japan Display (JDI). Both companies are preparing to churn out OLED screens as early as the second quarter of 2018, according to sources, citing Japan-based media reports. Sharp also aims to mount the flexible OLED screens on some of its own premium smartphone models set to launch in 2018, the sources added. In stark contrast with the state of play early last year, the accelerating trend of Asian suppliers investing in OLED production facilities will "definitely" lead to an excess supply of the panels in the coming years, according to DigiTimes' sources.China currently has a total of 13 fabs

Foxconn Gives Sharp the Lead on $7 Billion U.S. Manufacturing Plant

Following weeks of reports and speculation on the potential opening of a United States-based factory built by Apple suppliers Foxconn and Sharp, a report from Reuters today states that Sharp is "taking the lead" on a $7 billion plant in the U.S. that was initially outlined by parent company Foxconn. The plant will break ground sometime in the first half of 2017. The timing of the news coincides with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's incoming meeting with President Donald Trump, the driving force behind the recent glut of U.S. iPhone manufacturing news. In a phone call with Apple CEO Tim Cook in December, Trump said it will be a "real achievement" for his Presidency when he gets Apple to shift device manufacturing stateside. A decision by Foxconn to give Sharp the lead would come as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to travel to the United States to meet U.S. President Donald Trump, who in his inauguration speech vowed to put "America first". In a package Tokyo hopes will please Trump, Abe will unveil investments to create as many as 700,000 U.S. jobs, people familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier. Abe will visit Trump at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida over the weekend, where the two leaders will play golf, following a meeting on Friday in Washington. Sharp previously cited interest in building U.S. plants for LCD panel construction for TV sets and home appliances. Foxconn's rumored U.S. plans are more closely aligned with Apple through a proposed $7 billion joint investment with the Cupertino company, which would potentially lead

Sharp Executive Says Plan for Foxconn LCD Plant in U.S. is Still 'On The Table'

Foxconn and Sharp are looking closer than ever to building a manufacturing plant within the United States, according to one Sharp executive who said that the plan is still "on the table" (via Nikkei). The plant would mainly be focused on the manufacturing of LCD panels for TV sets and home appliances, but Foxconn is said to be considering moving iPhone production stateside as well. The news continues a rumor from last year born out of President-elect Donald Trump's comments on wanting Apple to make its products stateside. Foxconn laid out plans for such a move in December, along with Japan-based SoftBank Group, with each company hoping to create a combined 100,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next four years. Nothing is yet official, however, and the same Sharp executive noted that "we will make a decision carefully." Hon Hai Precision Industry and its Japanese subsidiary Sharp have begun studying the possibility of building a liquid crystal display panel plant in the U.S., a Sharp executive said Friday. With Trump urging American manufacturers to bring operations back to the U.S., Hon Hai is considering production in the U.S. due to its huge market for TVs and other home appliances. Although details about the cost of the plant and its location remain unspecified, people familiar with the plan said Foxconn would spend about the same amount on constructing the U.S. location as it did on a similar facility in Guangzhou -- around 1 trillion yen, or $8.69 billion. As an incentive, Donald Trump in November told Apple CEO Tim Cook that he would offer the company a "v

Foxconn Taking Advantage of Sharp Acquisition With OLED Production Line Set for Upcoming iPhones

Sharp is gearing up to help create OLED displays for the iPhone inside of Foxconn's "iPhone City" plant in Zhengzhou, China, according to a new report by Nikkei (via DigiTimes). Foxconn acquired Sharp in 2016, and soon after reports emerged that Foxconn would use its newly acquired investment in Sharp to become a major OLED supplier for Apple. Today's report points toward the OLED displays being manufactured for iPhone models further down the line than the upcoming 2017 model. Production on the Sharp line in the Foxconn plant is believed to begin "sometime in 2019," with around $864 million being spent on OLED production specifically for upcoming iPhones. Sharp plans to invest JPY100 billion (US$864 million) to set up an OLED production line at Foxconn Electronics' factory in Zhengzhou City, northern China, with production to begin in 2019, according to Japan-based Nikkei. As Foxconn produces iPhones at the factory, the OLED capacity is believed to be specifically for supplying OLED panels for upcoming iPhone models. According to recent rumors, Apple will launch at least one iPhone model with an OLED screen in 2017. From there, the actual design of the OLED screen has been conflicting, including reports that the screen will wrap around the edges of the device, or potentially a more traditional screen that still eliminates the bezels but includes a stainless steel frame. Because OLED displays are more difficult to produce in mass quantities, in comparison to LCD displays, Apple's suppliers will be unable to meet the company's production capacity for the 2017

Apple Supplier Sharp Confirms New iPhones to Switch From LCD to OLED Displays

Multiple rumors have pointed towards Apple releasing at least one new iPhone with an OLED display next year, and now the best confirmation yet has surfaced. The move was spoiled by Sharp President and CEO Tai Jeng-wu, who told students at Tatung University in Taiwan that Apple is switching from LCD to OLED panels, according to Japan's Nikkei Asian Review."The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels," Tai told students at Tatung University, his alma mater, during a ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree. "We don't know whether Apple's OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn't walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity," Tai said.Sharp said it is building a new OLED facility in Japan to manufacture the displays for a "key customer," but it has not ruled out U.S. manufacturing if required."We are now building a new [OLED] facility in Japan. We can make [OLED panels] in the U.S. too," he said. "If our key customer demands us to manufacture in the U.S., is it possible for us not to do so?"Tai did not specify when new iPhones will switch to OLED displays, but the transition is widely expected to start next year. Nikkei previously said Apple is planning to release at least three new iPhones next year, including a high-end model with a 5.5-inch-or-larger OLED display that is curved on both sides like Samsung's Galaxy S7 edge. The report said the other two models would be traditional 4.7-inch and

Foxconn to Develop OLED Displays Following Sharp Takeover

Following multiple reports claiming Apple will release its first OLED-based iPhone as early as 2017, DigiTimes Research says that Apple manufacturer Foxconn will develop AMOLED displays through its recent investment in troubled Japanese electronics maker Sharp.Sharp will set up one 4.5G and two 6G AMOLED production lines with monthly capacity of 13,000, 11,500 and 34,500 glass substrates respectively, with total monthly capacity of 9.85 million 5.5-inch equivalent panels.Given its longstanding relationship with Apple, the move could position Foxconn as a frontrunner among AMOLED display suppliers for iPhones. Recent reports said Apple was closing in on deals with Samsung and LG, while AU Optronics and Japan Display are also rumored candidates for orders in 2017 or 2018. AU Optronics, Japan Display, LG, and Sharp have all supplied Apple with LCD displays for current or previous iPhones. Last month, oft-reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple is planning an all-new iPhone featuring a curved 5.8-inch AMOLED display for debut in 2017. Kuo noted that, if supplies are sufficient, Apple would launch a 4.7-inch LCD-based iPhone paired with the new 5.8-inch AMOLED iPhone as a Plus-sized model. While some have expressed skepticism about Apple releasing a larger 5.8-inch iPhone, one possibility is that the screen wraps around the sides of the device akin to Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge. Apple holds patents for wraparound screens, and the design lines up nicely when applied to the height of a 5.5-inch iPhone. Rumors suggest that the iPhone 7 series will

Apple Supplier Foxconn Agrees to $3.5 Billion Takeover of Sharp

Apple's primary manufacturer Foxconn has reached an agreement to purchase troubled Japanese electronics maker Sharp for a revised 389 billion Japanese yen, or roughly $3.5 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. The two companies had originally settled on an estimated $6.2 billion takeover last month, but Foxconn put the deal on hold after discovering that Sharp had hundreds of billion of yen in "previously undisclosed liabilities." The deal, which is expected to be finalized on Saturday, should strengthen Foxconn's position as both an electronics maker and assembler. Sharp has been one of Apple's main LCD display suppliers for iPhones and iPads in recent years. Foxconn has long been interested in producing displays, which are typically one of the most expensive components in iOS devices. The supplier entered into a strategic partnership with Sharp in 2012, but the deal was ultimately unsuccessful. Apple could soon be shifting away from LCD displays, however, as recent rumors claim it plans to release at least one OLED-based iPhone as early as 2017, with display panels sourced from some combination of Japan Display, LG, and/or Samsung.

Apple Supplier Foxconn to Acquire Sharp for $6.2 Billion [Updated]

In late January it was reported that Apple supplier Foxconn made a $5.3 billion bid to purchase Japanese electronics maker Sharp. Today, Sharp has decided to accept an updated $6.2 billion takeover offer from Foxconn, reports Nikkei Asian Review. Sharp intends to restructure its operations under the umbrella of Foxconn, although arrangements of the purchase have not yet been revealed. Sharp was facing either a buyout offer from Foxconn or support from the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, a state-backed fund that offered a roughly $2.7 billion injection and a $1.8 billion credit line. Currently, Sharp supplies Apple with LCD displays for iPhones in addition to being a leading television maker and selling audio equipment, home appliances and more. The company has fallen on hard times recently, incurring a net loss of nearly $1.9 billion in the fiscal year ending March 2015. It also must repay $4.3 billion it had borrowed by March; Foxconn reportedly was willing to take on the debt. It's unclear what Foxconn's plans for Sharp are, but the company could sell Foxconn-made electronics under the Sharp brand. The acquisition's impact on Apple may only be near-term, as Apple is rumored to be turning to Japan Display, LG and Samsung for OLED displays in iPhones as early as 2018. Update: Shortly after the its acquisition of Sharp was announced, Foxconn put the deal on hold after "discovering previously undisclosed liabilities." Foxconn said it would not sign off on the deal until terms had been clarified. At issue is hundreds of billions of yen in liabilities

Apple Supplier Foxconn Makes $5.3 Billion Offer to Purchase Sharp

Apple supplier Foxconn has reportedly offered around $5.3 billion (¥625 billion) to purchase troubled Japanese electronics maker Sharp, according to The Wall Street Journal. The report claims that Sharp is also reviewing a competing offer from the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), possibly in the range of $2.5 billion (¥300 billion). INCJ already owns a controlling stake in Japan Display, a joint venture formed in 2012 by the display making divisions of Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba. Foxconn is reportedly willing to shoulder all of Sharp's debt in an effort to persuade the company's creditors. Sharp must repay around $4.3 billion (¥510 billion) it borrowed by March, urging the company and its lenders to reach a decision by February 4, when it reports its latest quarterly earnings results, according to the report. Sharp, which experienced a net loss of nearly $1.9 billion (¥222 billion) in the fiscal year ending March 2015, supplies Apple with LCD displays for current iPhones. The company is a leading television maker, and it also sells audio equipment, home appliances, interactive display systems for business use and more. Foxconn could begin selling its own line of electronics if it purchased Sharp, but exactly how it plans to use the company if taken over remains unknown. Any possible implications for Apple may be short lived, as Japan Display, LG and Samsung are rumored to supply the company with OLED displays for iPhones as early as 2018. In 2012, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou personally acquired a 38% stake in a Sharp display factory in Sakai,

'iPad Pro' Production Reaffirmed for September-October Ahead of Rumored Late 2015 Launch

Taiwanese website DigiTimes today reported the "iPad Pro" will enter production by the end of the third quarter and go into mass production in the fourth quarter, corroborating a recent KGI report that said the rumored 12.9-inch tablet would enter mass production in September-October. "iPad Pro" mockup places 12.9-inch tablet alongside iPad Air and iPad mini The report claims the "iPad Pro" will be released in the fourth quarter, with an estimated 4-5 million shipments in 2015. DigiTimes reported in July that the "iPad Pro" could launch in mid-November as Foxconn prepared to start supplying components at the time, but the release timeframe remains uncertain. The report claims Sharp will be the main supplier of LCD displays for the tablet, while Foxconn subsidiary General Interface Solution (GIS) will provide touch panels. Samsung Display and TPK will be secondary suppliers of LCD assemblies and touch modules respectively, according to the

Sharp Reportedly Cutting iPad Display Production Amid Shift in Consumer Interest to iPad Mini

Reuters reports that Sharp, one of Apple's primary display panel partners for its mobile devices, has slashed production of iPad displays at one of its plants. Sources did not indicate the reasons for the dramatic cut, but it appears to be a combination of a shift in consumer interest to the smaller iPad mini and a natural seasonal slowdown coming out of the holiday quarter.Sharp Corp has nearly halted production of 9.7-inch screens for Apple Inc's iPad, two sources said, as demand shifts to its smaller iPad mini. Sharp's iPad screen production line at its Kameyama plant in central Japan has fallen to the minimal level to keep the line running this month after a gradual slowdown began at the end of 2012 as Apple manages its inventory, the industry sources with knowledge of Sharp's production plans told Reuters. Apple also obtains iPad display panels from Samsung and LG Display, with a source at Samsung indicating that there has been no production cut there and a source at LG suggesting that any production cuts there were in line with typical seasonality. Reports of cutbacks in iPad component production come close on the heels of reports that Apple has slashed orders for iPhone 5 parts, although there have been significant questions about the figures cited in those reports and whether the decline actually represents a weakening of

High-Resolution Sharp Display Reportedly for iPad 3 Surfaces

The flurry of iPad 3 part leaks continues today following yesterday's interior photo of the rear shell and some follow-up photos of the exterior of the shell and the Smart Cover magnets. Among the most prominent additions today are new photos of what may be the iPad 3's display. Japanese blog Mac Otakara points to a posting by repair firm iLab Factory showing a 9.7-inch LCD panel from Sharp that is said to be a 2048x1536 high-resolution display set for inclusion in the iPad 3. The panel shows three ribbon cables connecting the display to its circuit board, in line with a previously-leaked photo of a claimed iPad 3 panel. The iPad 2 panel only utilizes two ribbon cables, with the additional cable on the new panel thought to be required to support its higher resolution. A few other minor components as well as additional photos of previously-seen parts have also surfaced today, with galleries having been put together by Cult of Mac and 9to5Mac. Apple is reportedly set to introduce the iPad 3 during the first week of March, with the first round of launches following shortly

Sharp Out as iPad 3 Display Supplier?

Even as some sources are claiming that iPad 3 production is underway with Sharp providing the displays for the device, Korea's Electronic Times reports (via Patently Apple) that Sharp has failed to meet Apple's requirements and is out as a display supplier. According to the report, Samsung and LG will be providing the displays for the iPad 3.An industry source said on January 9, “LCD manufacturers started mass production and supply of LCD panels for the iPad3 late last year. Samsung Electronics’ LCD business unit was the first to start mass production, and LG Display has participated in mass production with full capacity, beginning this year.” [...] Sharp has competed with Samsung Electronics and LG Display over the development of display panels for the iPad3, but reportedly failed to pass Apple’s approval process for mass production.Apple is said to be requiring at least 65 million iPad 3 display panels for 2012, with an initial batch of 5 million being produced for launch. A decision by Apple not to go with Sharp for the iPad 3 display could have consequences for the device's design, as the two companies have been reported by several sources to be working together on Sharp's indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) technology to achieve thinner, lower power displays. If Apple does utilize more traditional low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) displays from Toshiba and LG, that decision could require a dual light bar system to support the higher resolution of the iPad 3, thus necessitating the slightly thicker profile that has been rumored for the