Apple is reportedly mulling a $1 billion investment in a Japanese Sharp LCD factory
Apple is rumoured to be planning an investment of $1 billion (£600m) in a Sharp factory in Japan, in order to secure a supply of LCD screens for iPhones and iPads.
The Japanese media have been reporting for some time that Apple may invest around 100 billion yen (£790m) in the Sharp plant, but a sales note from brokerage MF Global FXA Securities on Wednesday sent shares soaring.
“We think it is highly possible that Apple will make an investment in Sharp’s Kameyama plant to the tune of around $1 billion in order to secure a stable supply of screens for iPhones and iPads,” MF Global FXA Securities analyst David Rubenstein reportedly said in the note. “This would have a material impact on Sharp’s profitability.”
The rumours emerged as Apple and its primary supplier Samsung Electronics battle in court over patents. Apple has accused Samsung of ‘slavishly copying’ some of its designs, singling out the Galaxy Tab and various Android-based smartphones.
The dispute has led to talk that Apple may diversify its range of suppliers, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, and some Japanese chip makers such as Japanese Elpida Memory and Toshiba are hoping to profit from the fallout.
Previous rumours suggest that Sharp has already signed a contract with Apple to supply power-efficient screens for the iPhone 6, expected to launch in 2012. However, the company faces stiff competition from rivals including LG Electronics and Samsung, which make cheaper panels.
Meanwhile, Apple is expected to reveal details of its fifth-generation iPhone on 7 September, at a launch event for iPods. Rumoured features of the iPhone 5 include Apple’s A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camera, and a larger screen.