Sharp develops flat-panel displays in diverse shapes

Published:

 

Sharp operates two divisions in Camas -- Sharp Laboratories, a research arm; and Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas, a sales and marketing operation -- which in 2013 reported a combined total of approximately 270 employees.

Sharp operates two divisions in Camas — Sharp Laboratories, a research arm; and Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas, a sales and marketing operation — which in 2013 reported a combined total of approximately 270 employees.

OSAKA, Japan — Sharp Corp. is developing flat-panel displays in different shapes as it wins orders from Chinese smartphone makers including Xiaomi Corp.

The new technology reduces the size requirements for a screen’s outer edge, allowing for non-rectangular designs including elliptical shapes, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Sharp is spending more than $343 million expanding panel output as it taps demand for producers such as Xiaomi, which outsells Apple in China and is entering 10 more international markets.

“The high-end smartphone display market is growing in China, with the speed of growth outpacing developed countries by about four times,” Sharp Executive Director Kazunori Houshi said Wednesday in Osaka. “We are now the first-tier supplier to seven Chinese smartphone makers, and we are planning to add up to six more this fiscal year.”

ZTE Corp., Lenovo Group and Xiaomi are among Chinese manufacturers turning to high-end liquid-crystal displays to challenge Apple with devices boasting a longer battery life and sharper screens. Sharp’s forecast profit would more than double this year as it ramps up sales of devices using its IGZO technology, which consumes less power than conventional panels, and reduces its reliance on the iPhone maker.

Sharp rose 1.6 percent in Tokyo trading, paring its decline this year to 6 percent.

“There’s rising demand for Sharp’s high-end panels from Chinese smartphone makers,” Yoshiharu Izumi, a Tokyo-based analyst at Navigator Platform Co. said by phone. “The Chinese demand is filling in Kameyama No. 2 plant’s capacity, where orders for iPad panels is not growing much.”

Xiaomi is accelerating its own expansion to meet its goal of tripling phone shipments to 60 million this year. The company keeps costs down by selling directly to consumers online. Lei Jun, its founder and chief executive officer, has set a goal of boosting sales to 100 million phones next year.

When the company began selling smartphones in Singapore this year, each batch sold out in just a few minutes. The company is adding sales in other Asian markets and Turkey, Mexico and Brazil.

Chinese manufacturers are luring buyers with high specifications. Xiaomi’s Mi3 smartphone with 16 gigabytes of memory sells for $241, about a third the price of Apple’s iPhone 5c. Compared with the 5c, Mi3 has a larger, sharper screen; a camera with higher-density pixels; and speedy quad-core processors.