Foxconn and its chairman ,Terry Gou, are reportedly looking to take Sharp Corp, in which the Taiwanese electronics conglomerate holds controlling interest, into the production of organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels for TVs.

According to reports in the Japan Times Friday, Sharp confirmed it could begin producing OLED TV panels at its Sakai factory in Osaka, Japan, in “coming years.” Currently, only LG Display is producing OLED panels suitable for consumer television production, and it sells some of those to Sony, Panasonic and others for those brands’ 4K OLED TVs, now sold in various markets around the world.

Due to high prices and limited availability, OLED’s share of the overall television market remains small. Global OLED TV shipments are expected to pass the 2 million unit mark in 2017, according to market research estimates.

Read more on Sharp Corp.’s OLED TV plans after the jump:

The report in the Japan Times stated, Sharp Corp will spend “about ¥57.4 billion [$516 million] to build production lines for OLEDs at its plants in the city of Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, and in the town of Taki, Mie Prefecture”.

Sharp was among the first companies to begin large-scale production of LCD panels for television use. It continues to produce 4K Ultra HD LCD panels at a 10 Gen LCD fab in Sakai. That plant is one of the most advanced in the world.

Foxconn acquired a 66 percent stake in Sharp in March 2016, just after the cash-strapped Japanese company’s original management was forced to license off the Sharp brand to China’s Hisense for television marketing in North America.

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Shortly after gaining control of Sharp Corp., Foxconn executives made clear their desire to regain the Sharp brand to market televisions and other electronics on a global basis. But Hisense has refused to relinquish the trademark that it had licensed for North America over a 5-year period.

Recently, Sharp, under Foxconn, has brought a lawsuit against Hisense, claiming poor brand stewardship and “shoddy” build quality of Hisense-made Sharp products. The lawsuit seeks a return of the brand. Hisense has vehemently denied the claim and continues to use Sharp to market lines of better-performing 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TVs, primarily through regional and specialty electronics retail accounts.

At the same time, Foxconn has floated reports that it is possibly looking at several different sites in the United States for new TV panel production facilities, despite the fact that it still lacks a brand with which to market its own lines in this country.

Prior to Foxconn’s involvement, Sharp Corp. had previously announced plans to begin small to medium-sized OLED panel production for mobile devices and laptops, added to which the company now says will be larger panels for TV use. Exactly when the TV sized panel production will begin was not disclosed, but Sharp had planned to begin production of small size OLED panels by the end of 2018.


By Greg Tarr


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