Back in 2012, Sharp’s Kameyama Plant No. 1 switched from making larger TV panels to smaller screens for smartphones. Apple became a key partner, and now the plant is at 90% capacity making displays for the iPhone 6.
You’d think that such strong business would keep Sharp happy, but that isn’t stopping the Japanese company from wanting to distance itself from Apple. The main thing Apple seems to be concerned with is that Sharp could end up doing business with Samsung instead.
“Sharp is looking to buy smartphone panel production equipment at one of its Kameyama plants in Mie Prefecture from Apple in a bid to diversify its customer base,” according to a report from Nikkei. Executives have offered around 30 billion yen, or $293 million, to buy back the rights to use its plant from Apple.
One of the main reasons Sharp is looking to part ways with Apple is that it wants to not be so reliant on the iPhone’s success. The report notes that Sharp could gain to work with other smartphone makers based in China.
The decision comes at a time when Apple is also trying to diversify its reliance on supply chain partners in Asia. Apple has been breaking ties with Samsung in multiple parts of the manufacturing process, including the recent switch to TSMC for iPhone processors. If Sharp and Apple do part ways, “the U.S. technology giant is said to be demanding that the Japanese company not supply panels to Samsung, Apple’s biggest smartphone rival.”