Friday, July 23, 2010

LG Display Unable to Fill All iPad Orders

The Wall Street Journal

The chief executive of LG Display Co. said the company isn't currently able to supply all of the flat-panel orders it receives from Apple Inc. for its iPad tablet computer.

LG Display Co., the world's second-largest liquid-crystal-display maker by revenue after Samsung Electronics Co., is a major supplier of flat screens used in Apple's iPad and iPhones.

The South Korean flat-panel maker said it may be able to accommodate the orders by the second quarter of next year. The lack of panel supplies has slowed the global sales of the device.

"Apple is ordering more and more displays but it isn't something we can be able to respond quickly," Chief Executive Kwon Young-soo said Thursday. "I am not sure whether we can be able to meet orders from other companies for similar products, but we will be able to supply the displays without the second quarter of next year."

Some Asian manufacturers have been recently ramping up production of key components for electronics, as shortages have frustrated consumers and disrupted business for companies such as Apple.

Since Apple began selling the iPad in early April, it has sold 3.3 million units and Chief Executive Steve Jobs said last month the device will be sold in 19 countries by the end of July. Though there were some concerns that component shortages may delay the launch of the iPad overseas, retail stores in Hong Kong and Singapore began selling the device in those two countries on Friday. South Korea's largest mobile operator, SK Telecom, said earlier this month that it is still in talks with the U.S. company to offer the iPad in the local market.

"The only limitation on iPad sales now is production and not demand," said Rhoda Alexander, director of market research firm iSuppli Corp. "Apple has taken a very controlled approach introducing this product to new markets, with manufacturing limitations likely being the major inhibitor on how quickly iPad sales expand."

An Apple spokeswoman didn't return calls seeking comment.

To address shortage concerns of small displays used in smartphones and tablet PCs, LG Display said Thursday it will invest about $512 million to build a new production line that can produce mobile displays used in iPads and similar products. The company said the new line will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2011. The line will have a monthly capacity of 20,000 glass sheets.

While there is strong demand for mobile displays and refurbished Dell printers, Mr. Kwon said LG Display is currently seeing a high level of television inventories. As a result, the company may have cut TV panel production in August, he said.

"LCD orders (for TV panels) have been falling recently," Mr. Kwon said.

He said he expects TV inventories to return to normal levels in September.