TOKYO: Sharp Corp. has nearly halted production of 9.7-inch screens for Apple Inc’s
iPad, two sources said, as demand shifts to its smaller iPad mini.
Sharp’s iPad screen production line at its Kameyama plant in central Japan has fallen to the minimal level to keep the line running this month after a gradual slowdown began at the end of 2012 as Apple manages its inventory, the industry sources with knowledge of Sharp’s production plans said.
Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said: “We don’t disclose production levels.”
The sources didn’t say how much of the slowdown was due to seasonal changes in demand or consumers opting for the smaller iPad mini and were unable to characterize Apple’s overall tablet sales.
Macquarie Research has estimated that iPad shipments will tumble nearly 40 percent in the current quarter to about 8 million from about 13 million in the fourth quarter, although Apple’s total tablet shipments will show a much smaller decrease due to strong iPad mini sales.
Any indication that iPad sales are struggling could add to concern that the appeal of Apple products is waning after earlier media reports said it is slashing orders for iPhone 5 screens and other components from its Asian suppliers.
Those reports helped knock Apple’s shares temporarily below $ 500, the first time its stock had been below the threshold mark in almost one year.
Apple, the reports said, has asked state-managed Japan Display, Sharp and LG Display to halve supplies of iPhone panels from an initial plan for about 65 million screens in January-March. Apple is losing ground to Samsung, as well as emerging rivals including China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp.
In addition to Sharp, Apple also buys iPad screens from LG Display Co. Ltd, its biggest supplier, and Samsung Display, a flat-panel unit of Samsung Electronics.
Both LG Display and Samsung Display declined to comment.