The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday morning that Sharp is investing a trillion yen, or about $878 million, into a manufacturing facility solely dedicated to churning out the superior organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display panels.
Sharp is owned by iPhone manufacturer Foxconn and the facility is expected to focus exclusively on OLED panel production for future iPhones.
Japanese giant Sharp is “taking the lead” on a rumored $7 billion display manufacturing plant in the United States which its parent company Foxconn recently highlighted in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Make in America” call. Citing a person with knowledge of the plan, Reuters is reporting that the forthcoming facility may break ground sometime in the first half of 2017.
Apple’s key suppliers—iPhone assembler Foxconn and its Japanese subsidiary Sharp—say that rumored plans calling for establishing an LCD manufacturing plant in the United States are “still on the table”. Company officials made that comment in response to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s “Make in America” call, Japanese outlet Nikkei reported Friday.
An unnamed Sharp executive told Nikkei that such a decision must be made “carefully”.
Apple’s contract manufacturer Foxconn is taking advantage of its acquisition of Sharp as the Japanese giant plans to set up an OLED production line in Zhengzhou, a city of six million people in an impoverished region of northern China, according to a report by Japan-based Nikkei that was cited Monday by trade publication DigiTimes.
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.
Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s top contract manufacturer and the biggest assembler of Apple products, reported rising revenues for the September quarter and a decline in net profit. Revenue for the July-September quarter climbed from NT$1.066 trillion ($33.43 billion) a year earlier to NT$1.075 trillion ($33.7 billion) thanks to brisk sales of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
However, losses produced by Foxconn-owned electronics maker Sharp caused net profit to fall to NY$34.6 billion ($1.09 billion) from NY$37.9 billion ($1.19 billion) a year earlier.
Sharp President Tai Jeng-wu—who is also a high-profile executive at Foxconn, Sharp’s parent company and Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer—said publicly that Apple’s next iPhone will use a curved screen based on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology akin to that on Samsung’s Galaxy S7 smartphone, Nikkei reported Saturday.
As you know, Apple currently uses OLED screens on the Apple Watch and the new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar. All iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices to date have used traditional LCD screens.
In addition to LG Display and Samsung’s mobile display arm, both of which are now pouring significant resources into ramping up OLED panel production ahead of Apple’s switch from LCDs to OLEDs for iPhones, Japanese outlet Nikkei is reporting today that Sharp is expected to do the same before 2018.
Apple is widely expected to make a switch to OLED screens in time for a tenth anniversary iPhone, due in 2017.