We have heard this before, Apple investing in a Toshiba or Sharp plant isn’t a new rumor. There are few LCD makers across the globe who can ship millions of panels that a smartphone / tablet maker like Apple needs. In a time when we expect Apple to ship as many as 100 million mobile devices a year, the suppliers are batting for huge contracts.
Apple needs a hell lot of touchscreen panels for iPad’s and iPhones and Samsung is said to be one of the suppliers to Cupertino. With Apple being neck deep in lawsuit with Samsung Mobile over its smartphone and tablet designs, it is perhaps hard for Apple to maintain a relationship with them as a component supplier for iPads / iPhones. But then Samsung is a key component maker. The LCD maker for phones and tablets are under pressure to meet demand and breaking ties with Samsung could possible mean Apple would lose critical supplies or lose the cost advantage it has over its rivals. The current rumor claims that Sharp would be the supplier for power-efficient screens for iPhone 6 in 2012. This is also said to help the Japanese manufacturing market that is losing out to China / Korea.
Hence investing a billion or more out of the massive cash reserves that Apple has, is a good move. Sharp, Toshiba, LG or anyone who can manufacture enough panels at the right cost for Apple is a good investment. By putting money (and in billions) for a plant to be built, takes off a huge load from the manufacturer. Thus enabling Apple to secure supplies even when there is a shortage elsewhere and at the same time get them at unmatched rates, allowing them to price iPads and iPhones at rates that the competition cannot match.
Samsung’s loss seems to be Sharps/Toshibas gain, but what would it take to replace almost $8 billion worth of business that Apple is said to be giving to Samsung.