Apple to invest $1 billion in a Sharp LCD plant: report

Apple is planning an investment of $1 billion in a Sharp LCD plant, reports quoting industry sources said today.

While the companies have not made any public statements about plans to work together, rumours have been doing the rounds for some time over Apple looking to invest in Sharp's LCD plant.

The investment in Sharp's LCD plant will secure display supplies for Apple's iPhones and iPads while cutting its dependence on other suppliers, including rival Samsung.

Apple and Samsung are locked in a patent battle spanning several continents and courtrooms. Samsung claims that Apple's iPhone and iPad violate patents it holds, while Apple has leveled similar charges against Samsung over its own mobile products.

Apple, however, seems to have gained an early lead in the matter. In Australia, the iPhone maker has signed a deal with Samsung that would require it to approve the version of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be sold in that country.

This comes after Apple won a preliminary injunction earlier this month, against Samsung that blocked the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in all EU countries, except in the Netherlands. A German court, however, overturned the ruling, at least until a hearing on 25 August.

The report, citing sources, said the legal fight is forcing Apple to rethink its supplier relationships. The report says chipmakers Elpida Memory and Toshiba, in addition to Sharp, could benefit from the development.

In the event of Apple investing in Sharp's LCD plant, it would not be the first instance of the company giving cash to suppliers for LCD display production. In December, Japanese business news outlet Nikkei reported that Apple forked out $1.2 billion for a Toshiba LCD plant, which was to see construction start earlier this year in Japan. The plant would roll out 17 million LCD displays when it becomes fully operational.