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Foxconn Targets OLED Technology With Sharp Acquisition

April 1, 2016 - Written By Kishalaya Kundu

After a four-year long effort to acquire Sharp Corporation and facing many a hurdle along the way, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technologies finally managed to gain control of the Japanese tech company that’s best known these days for its display panel manufacturing prowess. According to the terms of the deal, Foxconn paid a whopping 388.812 billion Yen ($3.42 billion) to acquire a two-third stake in the beleaguered Tokyo-based company. While the initial announcement of the takeover was reported earlier this week, it is only now that the finer points of the deal are coming out in the media. Apparently, out of the nearly 389 billion yen that was paid by the Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant, a cool 200 billion yen ($1.79 billion) has been set aside for OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology.

According to sections of the Taiwanese media, the setting aside of such a significant chunk of the overall payment for developing OLED technology indicates that Foxconn was always looking to make a headway into the growing market for OLED panels in consumer electronics these days. According to reports, the combined entity will start commercial production of OLED panels from 2018, with smartphone panels leading the way. That will be followed in a few years’ time by larger panels for tablets, notebooks and televisions. What’s more, with Sharp being one of the leading companies involved in the development of ‘IGZO’ (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) back plates, Foxconn will very likely look to apply the technology to the OLED panels that will be manufactured by Sharp under Foxconn.

Coming to the time-frame for OLED panels to start rolling out from the factory floor, the report says that while smaller smartphone displays are expected to start shipping from 2018, larger panels meant for tablets and notebooks will take a bit longer. In fact, it will reportedly be 2021 before the company will finally have the ability to start shipping panels for the larger devices. According to estimates, 2021 will see just about 3 million panels roll out of the factory, but the company will be able to ramp up production in order to ship as many as 10.4 million units a year by 2025. As for televisions, the report indicates it will take Sharp and Foxconn even longer to get into the game, with just 252,000 units rolling out in 2021 to about 7.2 million units manufactured in 2025.