Despite being one of the most popular display panel makers in the world, Sharp has recently been going through some financial trouble as the Japanese company which also manufactures everything from calculators and microwaves to ovens and an occasional smartphone has steadily been losing money for a number of reasons. After it became clear that this ship won't be easily steered, the board decided to put the company on the market and the Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn came calling with a $3.5 billion bid back in April. The sale was finalized last month and Sharp became a member of Foxconn's growing tech empire. Since then, the situation at the Sakai-based company has somewhat stabilized but there's still a lot of work to be done.
Despite the fact that the aforementioned acquisition put an end to Sharp's money troubles, the consumer electronics manufacturer is now expected to start doing its share of work in regards to revenue. As is usually the case with any business, you need to spend money to make money and that's exactly what Sharp is now planning to do. Namely, Sharp just announced a $570 million investment in its organic light-emitting diode panel business, more commonly referred to as OLED. The company's executives described this decision as a relatively safe long-term bet given how current trends suggest that electronics makers are likely to phase out liquid crystal display (LCD) screens in favor of OLED displays in the near future. The said investment will be made in Sharp's new manufacturing plants in western Japan which are opening in mid-2018.
While definitely not irrelevant, this $570 million figure fades in comparison to the $9 billion that Reuters claims LG is investing in the business, not to mention the already confirmed $1.75 billion investment that Sharp's competitor already made specifically to manufacture flexible OLED screens. That isn't to say Sharp is unwilling to radically expand its manufacturing capacity and capabilities. It's more likely that Foxconn is still skeptical about its latest acquisition's ability to take on LG and is just testing the waters with this investment. Of course, the Taiwanese tech giant hasn't officially commented on this expenditure but as actions speak louder than words, its stance regarding Sharp's business practices will likely become clear in the near future once the Japanese display maker announces more significant investments.