Apple invests in Sharp

Jobs’ Mob is planning to invest about a billion in a Sharp factory in a bit to secure its supply of LCD screens for iPhones and iPads.

According to Reuters, Apple has been also investigating putting cash into a new Toshiba LCD factory.

Of course none of this would have been needed had Apple’s lawyers done a lot to poison the outfit’s relationship with Samsung. This has apparently spurred talk that Apple may diversify suppliers.

Elpida Memory and Toshiba have been named as the winners of larger orders from Apple if the spat between Samsung and Jobs’ Mob escalates.

For a while the Japanese media have been reported that Apple may invest around $1.3 billion in the Sharp plant.

Sharp has already got a contract with Apple to supply power-efficient screens for the sixth-generation iPhone, to launch in 2012 if the world does not end before then.

MF Global FXA Securities analyst David Rubenstein told investors that if Apple made an investment in Sharp’s Kameyama plant, it would have to be about $1 billion in order to secure a stable supply of screens for iPhones and iPads,.

If it did this then it would have a dramatic material impact on Sharp’s profitability, Rubenstein said.

This will be good news for Sharp which is facing stiff competition from cheaper panels made by rivals including LG Electronics and Samsung.

Sharp announced in June that it would switch most production at one of its main TV panel plants to making small and medium-sized panels to meet demand for smartphones and tablets.