Sharp's fortunes may rise: Customers line up for IGZO panels

The ailing firm says it has managed to secure a customer base for its most advanced panel range.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Electronics maker Sharp says customers are lined up for its most advanced panels after struggling earlier in the year to create commercial interest.

According to Bloomberg, Japan's largest liquid-crystal display (LCD) panel maker has secured the interest of electronics developers, who will begin using the advanced screens -- known as IGZO displays -- early next year. Constructed from indium gallium zinc oxide, the panels have two main strengths; IGZO screens facilitate sharper screens than traditional LCD panels, and do so using considerably less power.

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For users of mobile devices including smartphones and tablets, this means that battery power can be conserved on the go. Instead of requiring a constant stream of power filling an LCD screen, IGZO displays remain dormant, and only use power when pressed.

Sharp said earlier in the year it was struggling to find buyers for the technology. However, an unnamed senior executive at the firm told Bloomberg that electronics makers will begin using the screens in 2013, although he declined to mention names or particular products. The executive said:

"A domestic company will probably offer products using IGZO display panels from the first quarter of the calendar year. As for foreign brands, you will probably see such products in the second quarter."

The Japanese firm has not had an easy year. Sharp has forecast a net loss of $5.5 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, and there have been recent reports that Qualcomm and Intel may invest in the struggling firm to keep it afloat. However, this may not be enough, as the firm recently commented on its financial issues, warning that it "may not survive" the coming years, even though it has made many attempts to cut costs through job losses and company restructuring.

Sharp will start offering the Aquos smartphone using 4.9- inch IGZO displays and the Aquos Pad tablet computer which uses a 7-inch IGZO panel in Japan by the end of the year.

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