Intel Invests in Cash-Strapped Sharp, Ultrabook Displays Primary Attraction

The television market isn't growing as fast as display makers would like, and as we reported earlier in the month, global TV shipments actually declined for the second consecutive quarter, dropping 8 percent yer-over-over in Q2. That's bad news for companies like Sharp, who have made a living selling TV sets. Enter Intel to save the day, at least as far as Sharp is concerned.

Sharp, which is in desperate need of cash, is reportedly getting some from Intel in exchange for supplying liquid crystal display (LCD) panels for Ultrabooks. Unlike the television market, Ultrabooks sales are expected to grow and unlikely to see consecutive quarters of reduced shipments.

Sharp IGZO

The upside that Intel sees in Sharp is the company's IGZO (idium gallium zinc oxide) display technology. These displays consume less power than traditional LCD units, they're thinner, use less backlighting, are touch-sensitive (an important feature with Windows 8 on the horizon), and support high definition resolutions. In other words, they have all the characteristics of what you would expect from a next-generation Ultrabook. You may even find them in the next iPad model.

Sharp, meanwhile, gets some much needed cash, perhaps as much as $383 million, it's being reported. The contract with Intel, if finalized, comes at a time when Sharp is restructuring its business operations in order to repay outstanding loans.