Samsung has become the latest minority stakeholder in perpetually struggling Japanese conglomerate Sharp as the firm continues to attempt to stem losses in multiple businesses, such as mobile phones and TVs.
Sharp is currently being trounced by both foreign entrants in Samsung and LG in its local TV sales market while also struggling against Chinese companies in the formerly lucrative electronics components market, leading to a bail out by banks holding sizable stakes in the company in order to avoid default and bankruptcy last year.
Samsung’s 3% stake in Sharp will allow it to utilize Sharp’s IGZO (Indium-Gallium zinc oxide) display technology, which has already proven itself technically superior to Samsung’s own OLED display technology by the virtue of being much thinner after manufacturing and is more power efficient than their own OLED displays at the same sizes and resolutions.
The display technology makes Sharp more attractive to mobile phone manufacturers that are constantly seeking to create the lowest profile devices with the thinnest and largest displays possible, with Sharp’s own AQUOS series smartphones and HTC’s Japanese market J smartphone also taking advantage of the display technology.
The new investment by Samsung is also being seen as a hedge against Apple, as the legal battles have forced each company to shore up component supplies, with Apple sourcing alternative suppliers where possible in order to avoid sourcing from Samsung as it continues its legal battles with lateral effects and Sharp is considered one of Apple’s key suppliers for current products, such as the iPhone 5 and iPad.
Sharp is also said to have recently cut display manufacturing for Apple’s larger iPad models as demand shifts from the larger iPad models to the iPad mini, as Sharp does not supply displays for the mini and is expected to supply the displays in the forthcoming updated model.