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Foxconn To Push Sharp Into OLED Panels

Hisense said its five-year licensing agreement to use the Sharp brand on TVs in North and South America doesn’t change with Foxconn’s controlling stake in Sharp, according to Hisense Americas CEO Jerry Liu.

“This licensing agreement is not affected by any transition in ownership, and we do not anticipate any impact on our North American television business,” he said.

The agreement went into effect in January, and at CES, Hisense announced 25 new Sharp TVs, including the first curved-screen and quantumdot TVs for the brand. Twenty-two Hisense TVs are also planned for 2016.

The Sharp and Hisense televisions are manufactured at a Mexico factory previously owned by Sharp but purchased by Hisense, which invested in a $30 million upgrade, Liu noted.

Liu reiterated Hisense’s plans to become the No. 3 TV brand in the U.S. within three years. “We are growing our North American presence, expanding our R&D capabilities across our U.S. locations, and challenging the industry with a 4-year warranty for all 4K televisions – the longest warranty in the television industry,” he said.

Foxconn will use 52 percent of its $3.49 billion investment in Sharp to develop OLED display technology to complement Sharp’s LCD-display manufacturing, market research company Digitimes Research said.

The Taiwan-based contract manufacturer will invest $1.79 billion of its $3.49 billion investment in Sharp to develop OLED, said Digitimes.

Foxconn purchased a 66 percent stake in financially ailing Sharp last month.

In developing OLED, Sharp will first produce small-size OLED panels for use in smartphones in 2018, followed by medium- to large-size applications for tablets, notebooks and TVs, Digitimes said. Foxconn then will begin offering OLED panels for tablets, notebooks and TVs in 2021, with shipments rising from 252,000 units in 2021 to 7.2 million units in 2025, Digitimes said.

Foxconn will likely bring Sharp’s IGZO back-panel semiconductor technology from LCD displays to OLED, Digitimes added. IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) semiconductor material is used as the back panel for TFT LCD displays to deliver faster speed, higher resolution, and lower power consumption.

Competitors in OLED display manufacturing include LG, which makes the panels for smartphones and its OLED TVs. Samsung and Japan Display also make OLED displays for smartphones.