iPad screenmaker Sharp is allocating a major chunk of its LCD production facilities to Apple — but doesn’t seem all that happy about it.
According to an interview published Monday with Sharp Senior Executive Managing Officer Norikazu Hoshi, the company worries about what it means for the entire output of the Japanese display maker’s Kameyama No. 1 plant to go “to just one company (Apple).”
As Hoshi phrases it, this reliance on Apple is a less than financially sound decision.
“If you look at just this plant, it certainly presents a high level of volatility risk,” Hoshi says. “But if we make LCD panels for smartphones in large quantities at the No. 2 plant, we can absorb the impact even when the No. 1 plant is not doing so well.”
Hoshi says that Sharp’s No. 1 plant uses sixth-generation glass substrate, while the company’s No.2 plant is based on a more advanced eighth-generation substrate.
While this does sound ungrateful to Apple, which is handing a struggling company a whole lot of business, it does reflect something of a theme when it comes to Apple suppliers. Because of Apple’s constantly changing requirements (based on its shifting product line), having Apple as a customer results in big changes in production quantities from quarter to quarter. Add that to worries about tying your fortunes to Apple’s, at a time when Android devices are munching up a lot of the lower-end of the market, and it’s no wonder a few companies would get squeamish.
Especially since Sharp rival Japan Display has been handed the job of supplying screens for the iPhone 6. Hmm… perhaps there’s a not-so-subtle hint hidden in Norikazu Hoshi’s interview?