Supply tight for new iPad screens

As predicted, Sharp seems to have failed to come up with the goods, and its LCD panels likely won’t be appearing on the new iPad when it hits the stores on Friday.

Sharp’s been working at the very limits of its manufacturing processes to build the the tablet’s 2,048 x 1,536 display using a-Si TFT.

And, according to the Wall Street Journal, production difficulties have  led to delays. While the company should have started delivering the panels to Apple in December, difficulties in customizing them have meant that they won’t be delivered until later this month.

Instead, the other two suppliers of the display, LG Display and Samsung Electronics, are believed to be taking up the slack – despite having had production niggles of their own.

Indeed, according to some reports, LG, too, hasn’t yet been able to meet Apple’s requirements, leaving Samsung the current sole supplier – ironic, given that the two companies aren’t best friends right now, suing each other all over the world over a series of patents.

It’s possible that the screen difficulties could lead to shortages of the new iPad a little way down the line. However, analysts believe that Apple will be able to avoid this.

“Despite widespread concerns, we believe there will be enough screens for the new iPads, writes Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co in a research note.

The display’s particularly important to the new iPad, says Informa Telecoms & Media analyst David McQueen.

“On the face of it the launch of the ‘new’ iPad was a solid, if unspectacular, improvement on the iPad 2. Adding LTE and keeping pricing on a par with the iPad2, while also keeping the old model on the shelves, will help drive the device into new segments,” he says.

“However, it is the retina screen, powered by the A5X, that is the real attention-grabber for the discerning consumer and a major point of differentiation that will make a whole host of applications from photos and video to books and gaming appear that much more vibrant.”