Reports: Sharp falls behind on iPhone 5 screen production

Display maker Sharp has fallen behind on its production of new screens for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) next iPhone, according to multiple reports citing unnamed sources, leading to concerns that Apple will not have enough components to meet demand.

The reports, from both the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, described different reasons for the delay. According to the Journal, Sharp has delayed mass production of the new displays because of unspecified "manufacturing difficulties." The report noted that it's "unclear whether the delay at Sharp could lead to supply problems for Apple." Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Sharp "is struggling with high costs that have cut into its margins on the screens."

Apple has not yet confirmed when it will introduce its next iPhone, though multiple reports have pegged Sept. 12 as the likely date. A thinner, larger screen is said to be one of the new hardware features for the device.

Sharp President Takashi Okuda said on Aug. 2 that his company would begin mass production of the new display. Reports have also indicated that Apple has tapped two other companies--LG Display and Japan Display Inc.--to produce the new display, which will use in-cell LCD technology, making the display thinner by integrating touch sensors into the LCD.  

Meanwhile, in other Apple rumors, Bloomberg reported that Apple will use screens from LG Display and AU Optronics for its smaller iPad, which is expected to be released in October. The smaller screen will measure 7.85 inches, the report said; current iPads have 9.7-inch screens. AllThingsD reported earlier this month that Apple will unveil a smaller version of the iPad at a media event in October, after it starts selling the next iPhone.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was "very receptive" to the idea of a 7-inch iPad by early 2011, according to evidence submitted during the recent patent-infringement trial between Apple and Samsung Electronics.

Apple executive Eddy Cue, now the company's senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in a January 2011 email to top executives that he had spoken with Jobs in recent months about the idea and that Jobs "seemed very receptive the last time." The disclosure was notable because in October 2010 Jobs lambasted the idea of a 7-inch tablet.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article

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