When two companies make competing products, even if they only compete in some spaces and participate in many more, it's pretty rare to see them partner up. It's even more rare to see them become so buddy-buddy that one of them invests about $90 million in the other. Such was the relationship between Sharp and Samsung, until about a week ago. Reports have recently surfaced that Sharp notified Samsung last week that they will no longer be their LCD supplier. While losing one supplier wouldn't normally be that big of a deal for a company of Samsung's size, especially given the product being supplied and how heavily Samsung has invested themselves in AMOLED technology, Sharp's panels accounted for about 10% of Samsung's total TV business.
While Samsung isn't exactly looking at a full-scale disaster, the news was bad enough to spur an emergency meeting. During that meeting, though, Samsung decided they would need to go to somebody on an urgent basis to fill in the hole that Sharp had left in their supply chain, and they decided, of all possible candidates, that this someone would be LG Display. LG Display reportedly has yet to give Samsung an answer on their request; the probability of them turning the request down is unknown, given the sheer size of the request and how much money LG would stand to make, versus their very clear status as Samsung's rival in almost every field that they're both in.
Sharp did not say exactly why they're cutting Samsung off, but it's not hard to make the connection to Foxconn, who bought Sharp up back in August. Foxconn announced that they wanted to buy Sharp in March, and speculation ran wild that their motivation was to appease Apple and gain favor as a supplier. If that is indeed the case, it's not hard to see why this is happening, or why Samsung sold off their stake in Sharp when Foxconn made their announcement. The sudden stoppage means that they are about 5 million panels short each year, which certainly throws a wrench in Samsung's normal operations, and could mean additional manpower and resources being expended by Samsung until they pick up a new supplier.