Sharp to share know-how for new iPhone display factory

Well, we didn’t have to wait too long for the first fruits of a recent partnership struck between Asian product assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, also know as Foxconn, and Japanese electronics giant Sharp.

According to a new report, Sharp will share its technological know-how with Foxconn’s new manufacturing facility in Chengdu that will produce display panels for Apple’s iPhone and other consumer electronics devices…

Reuters has the story, based on a report by Japanese daily Nikkei:

Japan’s Sharp Corp will supply technological know-how to Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co for a plant in China that will produce panels for Apple Inc’s iPhone and other consumer electronics products, the Nikkei business daily said on Thursday.

The Nikkei said that the new technology handover, for which Sharp will receive tens of billions of yen in fees, is aimed at improving quality management at Hon Hai’s planned plant in Chengdu.

Foxconn last month acquired an eleven percent stake in Sharp. The two companies will now together run Sharp’s cutting-edge display plant in Sakai, Japan.

Sharp also confirmed today that Sharp Display Products, the subsidiary that operates the Sakai plant, would buy back Sony’s 7.04 percent stake in the manufacturing facility.

Also, Dai Nippon Printing and Toppan Printing, suppliers that make films for Sharp’s LCD panels, will merge units in exchange for a stake in the plant, leaving Sharp with a 37.6 percent ownership stake at the end of the day.

That’s actually a good deal as Sharp’s been losing money on the expensive Sakai plant.

With presumably massive orders from Foxconn, the plant should soon operate at near-full capacity, hopefully.

Some people wonder whether the partnership hints at Apple readying mass production of its own television set. Though Foxconn CEO denied such speculative claims, Apple is a beneficiary of this partnership one way or another.

So far, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba Mobile and LG have reportedly been tapped to produce panels for a next-generation iPhone, but not Samsung’s, the key supplier Apple’s been distancing from lately.

Whether Sharp’s technological know-how is meant to improve the quality of iPhone displays remains to be seen.

Apple is thought to be very much interested in Sharp’s Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) display technology that features sharp colors, lower power consumption and pixel densities of as high as 330ppi.

Or perhaps this technological know-how sharing is for a rumored five-inch Retina gadget from Apple?