Should Sharp Focus on OLED?

2 Nov

Sharp’s new CEO is not sure if the company should focus its efforts on developing OLED technology. Tai Jeng-wu, appointed by Foxconn to turn around the flagging Japanese electronics company, emphasized his skepticism about OLED at an earnings briefing on Tuesday.

According to several reports in the global media, Sharp will make OLED product samples but Tai said he hasn’t yet decided whether his company will fully commit to the displays. Tai has said Sharp’s LCD technology is superior. Previously, Sharp had said it aims to begin mass-producing OLED displays from 2019.

“I am not sure yet whether OLED has a future,” Tai said the earnings briefing, adding that the technology was not yet sufficiently mature to produce a premium product.

Sharp’s results for the third quarter were poor, if something of an improvement over the same period a year ago. On Tuesday the company reported a net loss of 17.9 billion yen ($170.8 million) for the quarter ended September. That is less than the ¥49.6 billion loss it reported in the same period a year ago because of some asset write-downs.

Osaka-based Sharp has struggled mightily in the display-panel business as its rivals aggressively slash prices. Yet it has vowed to return to profitability in the second half of the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, with a projected net profit forecast at ¥3.6 billion. That would bring Sharp’s full fiscal-year forecast to a loss of ¥41.8 billion (nearly $400 million).

Could OLED herald a bright future for Sharp? Foxconn has said it would help Sharp boost its efforts to mass-produce OLED displays. Market insiders say Apple could potentially release an iPhone with a bendable OLED screen next year.