May 24, 2012

Reuters reported today, while citing Japanese business daily Nikkei, that Sharp will supply its technology to Hon Hai for a new Foxconn plant that will produce panels for devices like Apple’s iPhone. The move follows an investment from Foxconn’s parent company Hon Hai Precision in March, which agreed to buy 46.48-percent of Sharp’s LCD plant in Japan and $844 million in new shares for an 11 percent stake of the company.

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Sharp Corp will supply technological know-how to Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co for a plant in China that will produce panels for Apple Inc’s iPhone and other consumer electronics products, the Nikkei business daily said on Thursday.

As for what technology Sharp will provide, the report only specified it will be “aimed at improving quality management” at a future plant in Chengdu. Sharp will reportedly receive “tens of billions of yen in fees” through the partnership, and it announced plans today to buy back Sony Corp’s 7.04-percent stake in its Sakai, Japan-based plant.

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Frankly, no one has really sold me on why Apple should build a TV aside from its portable set-top box called “Apple TV.” With 7-year upgrade cycles and razor-thin margins, it seems as if Apple would be hard-pressed to introduce something noticeably better than a current high-end HDTV coupled with its Apple TV box (sure, Siri and gestures could run through that box too).

Forrester’s James McQuivey, though, has a creative idea:

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Today’s IDC numbers show that iOS and Android continue to dominate the smartphone market. They now account for 82 percent of all smartphones sold when combined, which is up from just over 54 percent a year ago. Android accounts for 59 percent of Smartphones sold, while iOS more than doubled its raw sales numbers by gaining 23 percent of the market. Meanwhile, Symbian, Blackberry, and Microsoft (although the chart above incorrectly doesn’t note it) all fell.

With iOS and Android continuing to grow, and not much in the way of innovation coming from the competition, it seems the smartphone industry is heading toward the same type of duopoly that the PC industry saw over the past three decades.

From the report:

Android finished the quarter as the overall leader among the mobile operating systems by accounting for more than half of all smartphone shipments. In addition, Android boasted the longest list of smartphone vendor partners. Samsung was the largest contributor to Android’s success, because it accounted for 45.4-percent of all Android-based smartphone shipments. But beyond Samsung was a mix of companies retrenching themselves or slowly growing their volumes.

iOS recorded strong year-over-year growth with sustained demand for the iPhone 4S after the holiday quarter and the addition of numerous mobile operators now offering the iPhone for the first time. Although end-user demand remains high, the iPhone’s popularity brings more operational pressures for mobile operators through subsidy and data revenue sharing policies.

The full IDC press release follows: expand full story

This week’s Fortune Magazine cover story penned by Apple watcher Adam Lashinsky is called “How Tim Cook is Changing Apple”, and it goes pretty deep into some of the high-level changes at the top of Apple since its late CEO Steve Jobs stepped down. Through a few anecdotes and observations, he noted how Cook inevitably changed Apple’s culture, which perhaps drives the company to a more normal structure and M.O.

One paragraph will surely scare some:

Elsewhere there are signs of Apple becoming a more normal company. When Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs banker, joined Apple several years ago, he was the only executive whose sole remit was dealmaking. Steve Jobs basically ran M&A for Apple. Today Perica heads a department with three corporate-development professionals under him and a staff supporting them, so that Apple can work on three deals simultaneously. Indeed, the vibe, in the words of a former employee, is of an Apple that is becoming “far more traditional,” meaning more MBAs, more process, and more structure. (In point of fact, 2,153 Apple employees reference the term “MBA” in their LinkedIn profiles out of a nonretail workforce of nearly 28,000. More than half the employees who reference “MBA” have been at Apple less than two years.)

Some other tidbits: expand full story

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