updated 06:15 pm EDT, Wed March 14, 2012
Sharp may contribute to iPad LCDs late March
Sharp's apparent absence from new iPad LCD production was out of a delay, not an outright rejection, an insider claimed Wednesday. It was to contribute starting in late December, according to the Wall Street Journal, but it had problems tailoring the screens to make sure they fit. New shipments could start as soon as March.
LG Display had also had problems, the tip indicated, but had met Apple's guidelines. It wasn't clear if LG was already shipping the screens. None of the companies involved would comment on the authenticity of the claims.
The timing might help explain rumors that had argued Samsung was the sole supplier. If at all accurate, they may suggest that Samsung was the first one to have guaranteed supply of the specially designed 2048x1536 displays and that sources confused this with an exclusivity deal. Apple often chooses multiple suppliers not just to handle capacity but to avoid major supply problems if one or more suppliers has production trouble.
Along with needing to raise the pixels above the usual assembly to allow more light at the fourfold higher resolution, Apple is known to be using extra LED backlighting. The iPad's 4:3 aspect ratio, although the most popular simply through Apple's market share, also goes against preferences among the Android- and TV-focused manufacturing partners for 16:9 ratio displays.
Sharp's panels may be indistinguishable on the surface from the LG and Samsung panels, despite its being at the forefront of display technology. Some had suggested Sharp would use IGZO (iridium gallium zinc oxide) to get a bright image without the extra backlighting, but having LG and Samsung onboard would rule that out.