Tohiba is building a large factory dedicated primarily to making LCDs for Apple, Nikkei said today. The Japanese firm would spend about $1.19 billion to make small LCDs and would primarily supply high resolution, low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCDs for iPhones. Apple is directly involved and will help fund the plant, the daily said.
Construction would start in early 2011 and would wrap up in time for production to start in the second half of the same year. Toshiba hasn't confirmed any details.
The timing would roughly correlate to the first results of the factory arriving in 2012, with the sixth-generation iPhone or expanded production of the fifth-generation model getting the first results. No mention has been made as to whether it would be a technological improvement or if it would simply supplement existing production; the new factory would be a more than twofold jump over the 8.55 million small LCDs Toshiba currently makes per month.
Apple may need the capacity regardless of its intentions. It has a multi-year deal with LG Display that includes the 640x960 Retina Display on the iPhone 4, but the advanced screen may have contributed to shortages as LG struggled to keep up with demand. A similar effect occurred for the iPad and reportedly led to Apple farming out production to Samsung to help cope with sales.