Slammed by phone rivals, Sharp pins hopes on in-car displays

The Apple supplier tries to shake up its mainline display business as LCD prices fall

Sharp's free-form display LCD panel for automotive applications, on show at Ceatec 2014 in Japan on October 7, 2014.

Sharp's free-form display LCD panel for automotive applications, on show at Ceatec 2014 in Japan on October 7, 2014.

Struggling display manufacturer Sharp, reeling from fierce competition in smartphones, will push automakers to incorporate vehicle dashboards that have gestural commands, thin bezels and other next-generation features.

It's hoping cars will be controlled, in part, through high-resolution displays that can fit any two-dimensional surface area, such as dashboard panels with rounded contours.

The company has shown off the wavy screens for cars and consoles in recent months, and has tried to woo automakers to use them. Under the firm's new medium-term strategy, the push has taken on greater urgency.

Thin-bezel dashboard LCDs, as well as screens that can provide multiple views to different passengers in a car depending on their perspective, could prove to be a lifeline for Sharp, which hasn't been able to command a dominant market position despite cutting-edge technology.

Sharp is an Apple supplier and is said to be a maker of iPhone 6 screens, along with Japan Display, and LG Display of South Korea.

Apple sources some of its screens from Sharp's Kameyama plants in central Japan, which produce the maker's flagship IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) transparent crystalline semiconductor displays. IGZO displays, which Sharp began producing for smartphones in 2013, have smaller pixels than conventional LCD screens and feature low power consumption.

Last month, Sharp showed off a 5.5-inch display with 3860 x 2160 or 4K pixel resolution, which was part of a 12.5-inch IGZO panel. But there were no immediate plans for mass production.

Sharp's ability to generate dazzling phone graphics hasn't saved its bottom line. The firm announced a US$1.7 billion bailout from banks this week, its second lifeline in three years, and posted a dismal earnings performance for the year to March 31 with a net loss of ¥222.3 billion ($1.8 billion). It blamed declining prices in small and medium-sized LCDs.

In contrast, Sharp sees prices for automotive and industrial automation displays as more stable because the barriers to market entry are higher due to the technological know-how that's required. Now it needs to play for time.

"We're expanding in the B2B business, which we don't have in big quantities at this point," Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said. "Car design usually takes about two or three years until it reaches the product, so this will take time."

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonesApplesharpconsumer electronicsdisplayslg displayComponentsJapan Display

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?