Chinese rumor roundup: Retina iMac coming in October, 7.85-inch iPad to use Sharp IGZO panel

A few reports have floated around today that we are filing under rumor. The first comes from a Digitimes report that claimed Apple suppliers are prepping for mass production of a new Retina iMac scheduled for July with a possible October unveiling. We told you in May that Retina iMacs were likely on the way when higher-resolution iMac display panels were spotted in Apple’s supply chain before the unveiling of the new Retina MacBook Pro at WWDC in June. Apple quietly updated the Mac Pro lineup after the event, and then it confirmed a redesigned Mac Pro was in the works for 2013, but we have heard nothing official from Apple on future iMacs.

We heard a lot about a possible 7-inch or 7.85-inch iPad, and today there are more roughly translated reports, coming from Chinese publication MyDrivers.com (via UnwiredView), that claim Apple has a 7.85-inch iPad using a Sharp IGZO panel. There have been several reports in recent months claiming Apple is working on the device, and the The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Apple was testing displays roughly 8-inches in size. Apple looks to be at least testing these screen sizes, but we have no solid proof that anything is planned as of yet. Previous reports indicated a possible October launch for a 7-inch iPad under $250. Read more

Sharp agrees to share technology with Foxconn for new iPhone plant in Chengdu

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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Often-rumored Apple partner Sharp announces production of Hi-DPI IGZO LCD displays


32-inch iMac or TV? We’ll take both!

Sharp revealed today that it began assembling high-performance LCDs last month with increased production in April to meet market demand.

Jefferies & Co.’s Peter Misek is a very outspoken analyst regarding Apple’s rumored HDTV. He first claimed in November that Sharp is preparing production lines for the “iTV,” but he later said the company plans to build roughly 5 million units beginning this spring with a product launch slated for Q4 2012.

According to Sharp, the LCDs will help the company contribute to “creating markets for attractive new products”:

Sharp will encourage the application of its new high-resolution LCD panels to high-definition notebook PCs and LCD monitors—which are both expected to grow in demand—as well as to mobile devices. Sharp will also contribute to creating markets for attractive new products.

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5 reasons why the new iPad runs hotter than the old ones

CNET spoke with DisplayMate’s Raymond Soneira who offered a few reasons why the new iPad is a bit “toastier”…

  1. Twice the LEDs: That means more heat coming from more LEDs. This is especially a problem at full brightness.
  2. 2.5X the power needed: The brightness efficiency is lower, because the new iPad has more pixels (which means more transistors) compared to the iPad 2. More pixels and transistors take up more space, meaning less opportunity for light to pass. “So they basically have to blast light through the LCD to make it come out.” Soneira adds: “I measured the LED power at maximum brightness–it’s two and a half times greater than on the iPad 2.”
  3. Battery generates more juice: The battery has to push out more power. This makes the battery warmer.
  4. Traditional LCD technology: Sharp’s power-efficient IGZO technology was not ready for the new iPad, which forced Apple to use traditional —and less power efficient— amorphous silicon tech. [To be fair, the older iPads also used this tech. Perhaps Apple was hoping to go 100-percent IGZO to offset the above].

The biggest heater in the new iPad is the new processor that has four graphics cores. If you look at the heat maps Consumer Reports and Tweakers did, the center of the heat is right where that A5X sits on the left side of the device.

As a bonus, do not forget those hot and schweaty Qualcomm LTE chips that bring the “faster than home broadband” goodness directly to your 4G iPads.

With all the above said, it is a minor miracle Apple managed to keep temperatures within 10 degrees to 15 degrees of the earlier versions.

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Toshiba Mobile Displays outed on Apple’s production suppliers list, factories open doors to labor group inspectors


Apple just posted its 2012 Supplier Responsibility Report highlighting its efforts to audit and improve working conditions within its supply chain. As part of the report, Apple also posted a list of 156 companies currently supplying components for Apple products that make up over 97 percent of all “procurement expenditures for materials, manufacturing, and assembly” of its entire product line globally.

The list includes Toshiba Mobile display, which is —as far as we know—currently not supplying displays for Apple. There were rumors in May that claimed Toshiba was working on a 4-inch retina display and rumors last month that Apple and Toshiba are building a plant for display production, which were later debunked by the increasingly unreliable DigiTimes. It also includes Sharp, who was recently rumored to be ruled out of iPad 3-panel production due to quality concerns but also supplies other components to Apple. The full list is available after the break.

In 2011, we conducted 229 audits throughout our supply chain — an 80 percent increase over 2010 — including more than 100 first-time audits. We continue to expand our program to reach deeper into our supply base, and this year we added more detailed and specialized audits that focus on safety and the environment.

Every year Apple audits suppliers in eight areas including: Anti-discrimination, Fair treatment, Prevention of involuntary labor, Prevention of underage labor, Juvenile worker protections, Working hours, Wages and benefits, and Freedom of association. The overall results can be seen in the graphic below. We also learned than Apple found 42 facilities delayed wages, 68 facilities did not provide proper benefits, and 67 facilities held back payments as punishment.

There were also 108 facilities failing to pay legal requirements for overtime and holiday pay, and 5 facilities with 6 active cases of underage labor, to which Apple is requiring the suppliers “support the young workers’ return to school and to improve its management systems.”

In the audits, Apple found 93 facilities currently have more than 50 percent of its staff exceeding the maximum 60 hour workweek (with one day of rest per 7 days) set by Apple’s Code of Conduct for suppliers:
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Rumor: LG and Samsung to supply iPad 3 displays as Sharp fails to meet Apple’s approval process

Following reports this morning from Macotakara that claimed Sharp would be supplying display panels for a next-generation iPad, a conflicting report from Korean publication Electronic Times Internet News (via PatentlyApple) claimed Sharp “failed to pass Apple’s approval process for mass production.” The report also claimed Samsung and LG already kicked production for iPad 3 panels into full capacity as of the beginning of this year:

It has been confirmed that Samsung Electronics and LG Display will supply LCD panels for Apple’s iPad 3, which is scheduled to be unveiled as early as in Q1 this year. Sharp was originally known to be developing display panels, but reportedly failed in initial supply.

According to the report, Apple is planning on placing orders for 65 million LCD panels for iPad 3 during 2012. It also claimed Samsung and LG would be supplying 5 million displays in the first quarter to meet demand for the device’s launch. Although there is obviously no way to verify this, and the publication does not exactly have a track record for breaking Apple news, the report does mention the same XQGA (2048×1536) display as Macotakara’s. The report cited only an “industry source.”
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Sharp rumored to ramp up iTV production in February for summer 2012 launch


An Apple television mockup by Adr-studio.it

More news concerning a rumored television set by Apple that several analysts and some media outlets have been calling for feverishly. According to a blog post published by The Tokyo Times news siteApple has commissioned Sharp to begin manufacturing large displays for an Apple-branded television set. Sharp should ramp up production in January:

American technology giant Apple is shifting partnerships in Japan towards Sharp, eyeing the production of a brand-new TV range which may be called iTV.

The product should hit the market by the summer 2012, the story goes. And according to New York Post, which referenced the original Tokyo Times report:

Apple has taken over the entire plant — pulling out of South Korea and its former partner Samsung — to insure the quality of the new set and to protect its secrecy.

The Tokyo Times story quotes Jefferies analyst Peter Misek as saying that Apple’s rivals have already begun “a scrambling search to identify what iTV will be and do”. The analyst wrote in a note to clients, based on his visit to Japan and talk with manufacturing executives:

It’s a huge deal for Sharp because they spent significant amounts of capital to try and expand capacity and upgrade their facilities. It gives Apple a partner that they can control manufacturing and secure supply at a lower price.

Please be advised that our confidence in The Tokyo Times isn’t very high…
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