Report says Apple dropping Samsung as iPad 3 display provider, going with Sharp

Nov 22, 2011
Tech

The legal saga between Samsung and Apple rages on, providing a strange dichotomy in the relationship between the two mobile device manufacturers. In the patent arena, the two are at war in courtrooms, but they’re also still partners, as Samsung is one of Apple’s largest component manufacturers for its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad lines. […]

The legal saga between Samsung and Apple rages on, providing a strange dichotomy in the relationship between the two mobile device manufacturers. In the patent arena, the two are at war in courtrooms, but they’re also still partners, as Samsung is one of Apple’s largest component manufacturers for its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad lines.

But that may no longer be the case. We’ve heard that Apple is considering other manufacturers to replace Samsung as Apple goes after the South Korean device maker in courts all over the world, claiming that Samsung has “slavishly” copied the look and feel of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Apple has successfully won bans against Samsung products in a handful of countries, including Germany and Australia. Meanwhile, Samsung is fighting back with attempts to get Apple’s products banned with its patents on smartphone technology, countersuing in many of the same countries where Apple is currently pummeling it in court.

A new report from GigaOM states that Apple is ditching Samsung in favor of Sharp, at least when it comes to the manufacture of displays for its next iPad iteration.

That rumor comes from a note made by analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies, an investment firm. Misek recently traveled to Japan and checked in with Apple suppliers while there and found that Sharp is picking up a lot more display orders from Apple for a number of (not yet announced or confirmed) devices: the iPad 3, the iPhone 5 LTE and the iTV.

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Earlier this week, it was reported that iPad 3 displays were being sent from a number of manufacturers – Samsung included – to Chinese iPad assembler Foxconn to begin the run-up to the device’s assumed release this spring. DigiTimes reported that 1 million displays were already being sent to Foxconn, with another 2 million expected to be shipped by the end of the month. Those displays are also reportedly high-definition Retina displays, measuring some 2,048 x 1,536 dots per inch, some four times the resolution afforded by the current iPad displays of 1028 x 768.

That suggests that if both these rumors are true, though Samsung has been a supplier for components for the iPad 3, it won’t be for long. That makes sense given the battles Samsung and Apple have been having, in which Apple seems unwilling to settle or relent against its closest rival in the mobile market.

Misek also reduced his estimations of iPad 3 shipments for this spring, from 17 million down to 14 million, though that’s still out ahead of Wall Street’s prediction of 13 million devices to be shipped at launch. Misek says the lower estimation doesn’t take into account supply at Foxconn, nor the fact that Sharp is picking up production of displays where Samsung may be letting off.

Of the devices mentioned in the investor’s note, none are confirmed but all three have had rumors circulating for months. Of course, Apple refreshes most of its devices on a yearly cycle, so a new iPad is due this spring and users have been asking for a Retina display for the device since before the iPad 2 was released. Rumors about the next iPhone have circulated for quite a while, and many expect the device to carry 4G LTE support as well as a larger display than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. As for the iTV, there has been some speculation surrounding the device that’s picked up substantially after it was mentioned in Steve Jobs’ recently released biography.

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As for Apple and Samsung, the two companies reportedly met in October to discuss the future of their relationship, but it’s hard to see how the pair would want to continue to work together given their legal strife. We’ll have to wait to see if the rumors of a split prove to be true, however, as well as what that might mean for Apple’s future devices.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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