Sharp is on the verge of stopping the production of 9.7-inch screens for Apple’s iPad.
The most probable reason is that the company is preparing to start production of screens for the iPad Mini,which is becoming a preferential option in the tablet market.
Production levels at Sharp’s Kameyama plant in Japan have dropped well down to justsustain for a month.Reports say that production began to drop towards the close of 2012,as Apple has been managing its stocks.
However, there could be other reasons at play.One factor is season, i.e. the product demand usually falls after the holiday season.The other is the shift to iPad Mini,which is drawing more attention than the standard iPad.Perhaps,efforts are underway to update product design, geared up in favor of the iPad Mini.
Sharp, which has suffered financially in recent years due to its regress in the TV industry,definitely needs the screen-making business.Though,it is a relatively new screen supplier,Sharp could make a profitable business in the foreseeable future, considering the possibilities of supplying panes for Apple’s HD TV.
Macquarie Research says that iPad shipments will fall from 13 million units in the last quarter to 8 million units in the first quarter of this year, i.e. a 40 percent decline.
Apple has also sought to reduce its supplies of iPhone panels from Japan Display, LG Display and Sharp; it initially planned to buy 65 million screens,but is seeking only half that number for January-March.
Apple seems to be losing ground to some budding rivals, such as Samsung, Huawei and ZTE.The stiff competition in the tablet market,especially the demand for smaller 7-inch display devices,led Apple to launch the iPad Mini for $329. The iPad Mini is outperforming the standard iPad,and is expected to make up 60 percent of iPad shipments this quarter.