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Apple inks LCD deal with mystery supplier

Posted: 04 Feb 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LCD panels? retina display? in-plane switching? low-temperature polysilicon?

In Apple Inc.'s latest quarterly earnings call, Tim Cook, COO, said that Apple has struck long term supplier agreements worth $3.9 billion over two years. He added that the company had already paid out $650 million on the deal in the December quarter and will pay another $1.05 billion in March. Cook said it was similar to Apple's 2005 flash deal but would not say if it was in flash, DRAM, LCD or what.

According to IHS iSuppli, their research indicates that Apple is investing to guarantee availability of advanced LCD panels for its iPad and iPhone lines. It believes the companies in question may be LG Display, Sharp Corp. or Toshiba Mobile Display.

''The agreements would involve the supply of Apple's retina display, used in the iPhone and iPad. The retina display employs the use of advanced in-plane switching (IPS) and low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) technology that provides extremely high resolutions in small displays by using pixels that are smaller than the human eye can perceive,'' according to IHS iSuppli.

''Since IPS LCD production is limited to suppliers that own or have access to the IPS license, it is a challenge to match demand to suppliers that own production capacity and IPS licenses,''it added.

''Furthermore, manufacturing yields associated with IPS LCD are still poor. For LTPS LCD, the established capacity base is limited and with the sudden growth in smartphone demand, may prove insufficient to meet market demand,'' according to the firm. ''The major alternative to IPS wide viewing and power saving features in smartphones currently is the active matrix organic light- emitting diode (AMOLED) display, used in many Android operating system-based models. At present, Samsung Mobile Displays and LG Display represent the only sources for AMOLED panels, with Samsung Mobile Displays accounting for the vast majority of shipments. Given this limited supply base, AMOLEDs have gone into a state of critical shortage.''

- Mark LaPedus
??EE Times

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