During Apple's recent earnings conference call, Tim Cook confirmed Apple was spending $3.9 billion on pre-payments for unspecified components. Aware of the AMOLED display shortages that plague the mobile phone industry, analysts and tech pundits alike assumed Cook was referring to the LCD displays used in the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad.
One early hint of a manufacturing deal for display technology surfaced in early 2009 when Apple reportedly signed a five-year deal with LG to supply displays for its notebooks and Cinema displays as well as the iPhone and iPod touch. A more recent rumor suggested Apple was investing in a Toshiba-owned manufacturing facility for retina displays.
IHS iSuppli has dug up information from its manufacturing channels that corroborate these rumors. According to iSuppli, Apple's $3.9 billion in pre-payments is headed to LG Display, Sharp, and Toshiba Mobile display and would secure the supply of advanced LCD displays for the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad.
Besides buying displays from the trio of display makers, Apple is also investing in manufacturing facilities to build the high resolution IPS (in-plane switching) and LTPS (low-temperature polysilicon) LCD panels used in its mobile devices. By investing in these LCD companies, Apple is securing for itself a steady supply of displays which will meet the growing consumer demand for its popular iPhone and iPad.