According to Japanese outlet Nikkei, cited by DigiTimes, Sharp is hoping to secure some camera lens orders from Apple for future iPhones. To boost its chances of cutting a lucrative deal with Apple, Sharp is now speculated to increase its investment in Japan-based lens module maker Kantatsu, in which it currently holds a 44 percent stake.
Sharp would need to compete with Taiwan-based Largan Precision, which currently supplies iPhone camera lens modules in volume. Sharp is owned by Foxconn, the world’s top contract manufacturer that assembles iPhones.
Kantatsu currently produces 12-megapixel camera modules with a yield rate comparable to that of Largan, as per Chinese-language outlet Liberty Times.
Sharp’s president Tai Jeng-wu said in recent letter to employees, a copy of which was obtained by Nikkei, that the company should boost its camera module business through investments and acquisitions of core equipment and manufacturing partners.
Apple does not hold any stake in Kantatsu though it did provide the company with a batch of equipment for manufacturing upgrades in early 2016.
In another report today, DigiTimes reiterated that Samsung will exclusively provide AMOLED panels for next year’s iPhone 8. Other panel makers such as LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp could join Apple’s AMOLED supply chain some time in 2018.