Foxconn, the company that assembles almost all of Apple’s devices —- plus plenty more for the likes of Amazon, Dell, Microsoft, and Sony —- has confirmed today that it has secured a 46.5% stake in Sharp’s giant LCD plant in Sakai, Japan. The deal is expected to help Sharp improve its performance, and could make low-energy IGZO displays a possibility for future iPads
Foxconn now owns the same 46.5% share in the plant that’s held by Sharp — Sony owns the remaining 7% — and an 11% share of Sharp itself. Revenues will reportedly be split evenly down the middle.
In return for the investment, Sharp has agreed to use more third-party parts in its manufacturing, and it is expected to use Foxconn’s size as leverage in negotiations over prices. It is hoping that the partnership will provide it with a “competitive edge in the global market,” which could see both companies fighting off the likes of Samsung and LG Display when it supplying LCD panels to Apple.
Sharp has already produced around 2.7 million Retina displays for Apple’s latest iPad, according to reports, and could be about to ramp up production during the second quarter. It has also been suggested that the company will also begin supplying iPhone displays later this year.
The partnership will undoubtedly be a benefit to Apple’s production, then, with guaranteed LCD supplies from its main contract manufacturer.
Furthermore, it could also see future Apple devices — particularly the iPad — adopting Sharp’s IGZO displays, which are said to provide better color and brightness than existing panels, while consuming less energy. Apple is yet to adopt the technology because Sharp simply hasn’t been able to provide the quantity Apple needs, but its new partnership with Foxconn could change that.