Exclusive: Japan's Sharp cuts iPad screen output
By Reiji Murai and Miyoung Kim
TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) - Sharp Corp has nearly halted production of 9.7-inch screens for Apple Inc's iPad, two sources said, possibly as demand shifts to its smaller iPad mini.
Sharp's iPad screen production line at its Kameyama plant in central Japan has fallen to the minimal level to keep the line running this month after a gradual slowdown began at the end of 2012 as Apple manages its inventory, the industry sources with knowledge of Sharp's production plans told Reuters.
Sharp has stopped shipping iPad panels, the people with knowledge of the near total production shutdown said. The exact level of remaining screen output at Sharp was not immediately clear but it was extremely limited, they said.
Company spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said: "We don't disclose production levels."
Apple officials, contacted late in the evening after normal business hours in California, did not have an immediate comment.
The sources didn't say exactly why production had nearly halted. Among the possibilities are a seasonal drop in demand, a switch to another supplier, a shift in the balance of sales to the mini iPad, or an update in the design of the product.
Macquarie Research has estimated that iPad shipments will tumble nearly 40 percent in the current quarter to about 8 million from about 13 million in the fourth quarter, although Apple's total tablet shipments will show a much smaller decrease due to strong iPad mini sales.
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