updated 11:30 pm EDT, Tue April 19, 2011
Apple rumored once more investing in Toshiba LCDs
Talk of Apple purportedly investing in Toshiba's display production flared up again after a new claim from Japan's Nikkan Kogyo claimed a plan was still underway. Toshiba had reportedly been in a fierce competition with Sharp that had seen both invest about $1.21 billion in factories that would produce screens for future iPhones. Toshiba had won after Apple decided to concentrate its Japanese efforts, according to the paper.
It was implied that some production would be outside of Japan as Apple was hoping to avoid too much dependence on one country by using both Sharp and Toshiba. The Tohoku area earthquake may have been an influential factor by revealing the possible consequences of major problems with suppliers.
Sharp publicly claimed the story wasn't accurate and demanded the paper retract the story. It wasn't clear how much was correct. Neither Apple nor Toshiba is known to have responded to the article.
Most of the supporting evidence has come from Apple's public acknowledgment that it was making a new long-term investment similar to the one it made in flash memory in 2005. Analysts and other observers have suspected it might be for displays to drive economies of scale and guarantee supply for iPhones, iPods and possibly iPads. Without proof of their own, however, little is known about the real intentions.
Sharp has already developed a reputation for mobile device screens and already has a 3.5-inch, 640x960 display very close to the one used in the iPhone 4. Toshiba is known for its TVs but hasn't usually been revolutionary in handheld devices.