An over-reliance on Apple’s custom has left LG Display in the lurch with its LCD screen sales, having seen profits pale alongside a shrink in panel demand. The screen company saw tablet and smartphone panel sales drop 4-percent in Q1 this year, versus Q4 2012, which analysts have blamed on smaller than expected orders from Apple. The Cupertino firm’s iPad and iPhone display requirements are believed to account for around 30-percent of LG Display’s revenue.
LG Display finds itself in a precarious position, then, as it faces an uncertain 2013. Its Q1 performance was a marked improvement year-on-year, but down 74-percent quarter-on-quarter. Meanwhile, Apple’s requirements for the coming months aren’t clear, though some market watchers have suggested that the company’s demands might spike sharply amid chatter of a cheaper iPhone model for developing markets.
The Korean firm isn’t giving specifics, but did say on Monday that it expected panel shipments to rise between 5- and 10-percent in Q2, versus Q1. If talk of a July budget iPhone launch pans out, that would suggest parts shipments from LG Display to begin roughly in June, potentially ending the quarter on an uptick in sales.
Overall, LG Display made 151bn won ($135m) in Q1 2013, down from 211bn won a year previous. Further down the line, a new iPad is tipped to be likely to drop in September, with LG Display providing some of the screens for that model too.
Meanwhile, the company is attempting to diversify and bring prices of alternative technologies to LCD, such as OLED, down to more affordable levels. Back in February, LG Display announced it would be investing the equivalent of $655m into OLED manufacturing refinements, so as to offset stagnating demand in TV-scale LCD screens.