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Sharp exits TV display panel business

23 May 2024 | Rasmus Larsen |

Japan's Sharp, the first display maker to operate a 10th-generation LCD plant, is withdrawing entirely from the production of LCD TV panels.

The news was confirmed last week by President and CEO Wu Po-hsuan, as reported by Nikkei Asia. Sharp is currently owned by Taiwan's Foxconn.

Sharp will cease production at its LCD TV panel factory in Sakai, Japan, by September this year. The Sakai factory was inaugurated in 2009 as the world's first 10th-generation display line, but it has operated at a loss for most of its existence. Additionally, Sharp will reduce production of smaller display panels at other factories to focus on AI-related business ventures.

The decision comes less than two years after Sharp announced its comeback in the US. We may continue to see Sharp TVs sold either under license or with panels from other display makers.

Sharp Sakai LCD

Sharp's factory in Sakai, Japan. The building in the center is the LCD panel plant

China dominates the display industry

South Korea's Samsung Display has already fully exited the LCD panel business, while LG Display has sold off most of its production capacity, retaining only a single LCD plant. With Sharp exiting the LCD business, China will dominate LCD panel production to an even greater extent. Sakai is the only remaining LCD TV plant in Japan. Chinese display makers such as TCL CSOT and BOE currently supply LCD panels to TV brands such as Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony. - "In 2023, factories located in China accounted for 77% of Gen 7 and larger substrates, on which the vast majority of TV panels are fabricated. If SDP is closed down, production will become even further consolidated in China, extending to more than 80% of global supply. In this scenario, leading Chinese TV panel suppliers such as BOE, China Star, and HKC will gain even more leverage when negotiating with global TV brands," market research firm Omdia wrote in March 2024 when rumors about the closure first emerged. Both LG Display and Samsung Display have shifted to producing OLED displays. Sharp has been developing OLED, microLED, and QD-EL (NanoLED) technologies. It is currently unclear if these development projects will be affected by the decision. - Source: Nikkei, Omdia

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