Foxconn now wants one-fifth of Sharp as iTV meme picks up steam

By , Aug 17, 2012

Funny thing how, after a period of inconsistent rumor mongering, all the pieces of an Apple branded television set rumor appear to be falling in place. First, the Wall Street Journal threw its credibility behind the iTV meme yesterday with a pair of stories describing a set-top box, likely a next-gen Apple TV, that could tap iCloud to store shows the instant they air and work with premium cable TV content.

Then earlier today we’ve learned via an analyst note that the iTV could be in production as we speak and that Apple is planning to offer both a standalone $1,250 HD TV set with AT&T‘s UVerse and Verizon’s FiOS contract and content deals, as well as a much cheaper and more advanced set-top box for Comcast customers.

And just as I explained the intricacies of a cool gesture recognition technology that iTV is thought to incorporate, a new report from Japan says Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer Foxconn is now asking to double its planned stake in Sharp to as much as twenty percent, up from the originally agreed 9.9 percent

Japan’s economic journal The Nikkei (voa The Verge) has the story (note: Hon Hai = Foxconn):

If Hon Hai has its way to increase its stake in Sharp over 10 percent, the Taiwan giant will get the right to ask a court to dissolve Sharp, thus allowing Hon Hai to increase its voice in controlling the ultimate destiny of one of the oldest Japanese companies.

Hon Hai’s new proposal, if true, is the worst case scenario for Sharp, who has been resisting at all cost to changing the terms of the original agreement.

Foxconn’s true intentions aren’t altruistic as it’s been attempting to control Sharp by putting a pressure on its share price and then throw a lifeline just as Sharp becomes worthless.

Sharp is badly cash-strapped.

Its TV business amassed incredible losses amid strong competition from Taiwan makers such as Samsung and LG.

At this point, Sharp would be best served by dropping the HD TV set making biz and becoming a components maker and – hopefully – a major Apple supplier.

As you know, Sharp already makes some iPad 3 Retina panels and even confirmed shipments of iPhone 5 displays. And now, the two companies are thought to be expanding their relationship, conveniently amid increased iTV chatter.

On top of this, some of the industry’s respected figures apparently have reasons to believe that Sharp’s cutting-edge plant in Osaka, Japan will be churning out IGZO display panels for iTV.

As that facility is already owned 93 percent by Foxconn so clearly the love triangle between Apple, Focxconn and Sharp is of strategic importance.

Think about it…

Isn’t it convenient that Foxconn is now pushing for doubling of its ownership stake in a company that the industry pretty much believes was cherry-picked by Apple as a critical panel supplier for the iTV?

On a somewhat related note, Apple’s finance chief Peter Oppenheimer in a non-public call for ISI Group analysts and clients “exuded confidence” in Apple’s future plans.

The Wall Street Journal‘s senior editor Maxwell Murphy thinks this “implies that Apple will release its hotly anticipated iPhone 5 and iTV offerings sooner rather than later”.

So, what do you guys think?

Too much coincidences in just 48 hours to dismiss this recent iTV talk as some random gossip talk, don’t you think?

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    Won’t be called iTV for legal reasons