Sharp is the latest company to be fingered as getting help from Apple's purse to open up a new display plant, following reports earlier in the week that Toshiba was opening a similar small/medium panel fab with Apple the primary customer. According to Japanese paper the Nikkei business daily, Sharp is spending around 100 billion yen ($1.2bn) on the project, a figure which Apple is apparently significantly contributing toward.
The panels Sharp is producing will mostly be purchased by Apple to go to future iPhone models, the paper continues, suggesting they will be high-resolution "Retina Display" units. The facility Sharp plans on using was previously employed for large-panel LCD production, but the new smaller LCD equipment will be installed in 2011 and mass production kick off in the second half of 2012.
Unlike Toshiba, which has outright denied Apple investment in their new plant, Sharp has merely declined to comment on the speculation. Sharp already offers a Retina Display matching panel in its own IS03 Android smartphone, currently only on sale in Japan.