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Energy-saving LCD panels seen as key to Sharp's revitalization
Publication Date : 25-10-2012
Sharp Corp. is positioning its energy-saving IGZO liquid-crystal display panels, used in smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile computer devices, as a pillar of its business revitalization efforts.
At an event to promote its new products held Tuesday in Tokyo, the company launched a full-bore sales effort for such items for the latter half of this fiscal year.
Sharp aims to see the IGZO panels installed in about 30 per cent of mobile devices sold domestically.
In overseas markets, Sharp will speed up development of smartphones with the IGZO panels jointly with Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.
Phone models with IGZO panels to be released by NTT Docomo Inc. and KDDI Corp. this winter will be able to play videos for up to 2.8 times longer on a single battery charge because the screens consume less electricity.
Smartphones and other mobile computer devices have larger display panels than conventional mobile phones. Though this makes it more convenient for users of the newer devices to watch videos, electric power consumption is greater.
According to Masami Obatake, general manager of Sharp's Communication Systems Group, the highly energy-efficient IGZO panels will enable "users to enjoy electronic books and motion pictures for a longer time".
Sharp's IGZO panels also will be used for models for overseas markets.
Sharp previously developed jointly with Hon Hai a model of smartphone with a conventional LCD panel and released it in China and some other countries. From now on, the two companies will cooperate in developing models with the IGZO panels.
Sharp aims to regain its market share by collaborating with Hon Hai, which has broad sales channels.
Sharp's Kameyama No. 2 plant in Kameyama, Mie Prefecture, which had manufactured mainly LCD panels for TV sets, is taking charge of production of IGZO panels for tablet computers. Its plant in Tenri, Nara Prefecture, which had manufactured mainly small LCD panels, is taking charge of production of those for other mobile devices.
Sharp expects this division of roles to improve production efficiency.
However, it is uncertain whether the mobile device business can be a trump card for Sharp's business rehabilitation.
From fiscal 2005 to fiscal 2010, Sharp had the largest share of the domestic market for mobile phones, but it later lost its top position to foreign rivals.
As a Sharp executive admitted, "It's not easy to compete with such rivals as Apple Inc. of the United States and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., which have greater brand recognition and market share both at home and abroad."
Thus Sharp will face tough going in trying to go on the offensive.