Sharp Scores Multi Billion Dollar Deal To Make New Apple TV

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Japanese TV Company Sharp appears to have scored a multi billion dollar contract to manufacture a TV for Apple. The TV which is tipped to be launched in mid 2012 is believed to be 55″ model with a built in ARM processor and will eliminate the need for an Apple TV box.

The TV will be manufactured at the ultramodern Gen 10 Sharp Sakai display panel plant in Osaka. During a visit to that plant last year I saw several panel shipments being processed for Sony and several other brands.

We were told that Sharp was already producing panels for Apple’s PC monitors and that they are set to manufacture the display for a new iPad 3.

According to Jefferies analyst Peter Misek Sharp has already started production of the TV panels for Apple.

He claims that Apple is estimated to have spent between $500 million and $1 billion on manufacturing equipment for IGZO displays at Sharp’s Gen 6 Kameyama plant. If accurate, the figure would represent a large portion of Apple’s $8 billion capital budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Apple spent just $4.6 billion in 2011.

Competitors in the TV market are allegedly “scrambling” to figure out what features an Apple-designed TV might have. “They hope to avoid the fate of other industries and manufacturers who were caught flat footed by Apple,” writes Misek in a note to investors.

He went on to say “Having said that, it appears that mainstream TV manufacturers are likely to be at least 6 to 12 months behind in a best-case scenario.”

The TV when launched could go head to head with a new Google TV from LG as well as a new range of Smart TVs that include quad core ARM processors, similar to what is appearing in a new generation of smartphones.

Sharp sources have confirmed that the Japanese Company has been working with Apple for more than 12 months. It’s believed that Sharp has developed a new IGZO (iridium, gallium, zinc) LCD panel with 330ppi resolution and that Apple working on an extremely thin design.

 

Key to the TV is the processor which allows users to access most of the features found on an iPad.

SmartHouse has been told that Apple want consumers to be able to access TV and movie content, music as well as selected applications from the Apple App store. It is not known whether the TV will have “touch” capability.

Misek said “The IGZO technology is perfect in that it offers near-OLED power consumption while having a lower cost and thinness that is only 25% greater than OLED, based on our checks”.

He said that the IGZO display technology is expected to debut in the iPad 3.

Misek suggested that Apple should be getting the panels at a discount, as it has supposedly made a large capital commitment to Sharp. The latter business has publicly stated that the main use for IGZO displays will be “tablet terminals.”

In the long-term, Misek forecasts that Apple and Sharp will do joint development of OLED panels, using a Sharp technology that “prints” OLED panels onto film that is then fixed to glass.

“The yield improvements have been enormous and have enabled some trial runs to produce commercial yields,” the analyst says. “We expect Sharp/Apple to have a line testing this by the middle of 2012 with 2013 output possible.” OLEDs are only predicted to show up on handhelds at first, skipping larger Apple products until 2015.

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