Foxconn has goals for its new display manufacturing subsidiary Sharp — including building OLED displays for iPhones down the road. But for Apple to have those phones, it’s going to need to switch off of its LCD technology. And Sharp’s chasing after the company.
“The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels,” said Tai Jeng-wu, President of Sharp and an executive at Foxconn.
Tai spoke to an audience at his reception of an honorary degree from alma mater Tatung University in Taiwan. He claimed that if Apple isn’t going to transition screen technologies now, “there will be no innovation.”
Sharp is considered to be late in the transition game. It has a long ways to chase after the big OLED hounds like Samsung and LG. Sure, recent money from a new parent company helps, but estimations currently mark Sharp ready for mass production by the start of 2018 at the earliest. So, how is the company going to put an edge to its sales?
“We are now building a new [OLED] facility in Japan,” Tai said. “We can make [OLED] in the US too. If our key customer demands us to manufacture in the US, is it possible for us not to do so?”
It would be a foolhardy and costly move for any other person to announce. Producing one part in the US to ship to an Asian manufacturing hub before the final product coming back to Cupertino would make very little sense. But since Tai also speaks for Apple’s top iPhone assembler, it might be reasonable to see both Sharp and Foxconn bring OLED production as well as the production of other component plus assembly to the United States.