In some ways, it seems as if speculating about Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTV – or whatever the company’s TV is going to be called, if such a product is ever released — might be more fun than the product itself.
But Apple’s prominence in the market is such that sleuthing details about its patents and production plans, or those of its manufacturing partners, has become a reflex. One recent example: reports that Taiwan-based Foxconn (PINK:FXCNY) is investing a total of $1.6 billion in Japan-based TV makers Sharp (PINK:SHCAY) and Sony (NYSE:SNE), with which it already has a joint-venture agreement. Foxconn also has commited to buying 50% of Sharp’s LCD panel output.
While this could be a lifesaver for Sharp and a big assist for Sony — given declines in TV prices and flat sales in the U.S. — TechCrunch points out the move would solidify Foxconn’s supply chain if in fact there is an iTV in the offing, but also could augment its supply of panels for a segment of its iPad production that might include Sharp’s IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology for high-resolution displays.
Foxconn’s parent company, Hon Hai, TechCrunch adds, this week reported net profit of $1.2 billion on sales of $36 billion.