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Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 04:45 am PT (07:45 am ET)

Apple corners market on 10.1-inch LCD, OLED screens - report

Availability of 10.1-inch multi-touch LCD and OLED display panels from Asian suppliers is said to be nonexistent, as one designer has claimed Apple "pre-ordered them all."

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, TG Daily allegedly spoke with an anonymous designer who said the screen size is currently unavailable, as Apple has supposedly ordered so many screens that the parts cannot be purchased by anyone else.

"We were designing a product for a customer and we needed 10-inch screens," the source allegedly said, "but we've been trying for months and can't get one from any of the Asian suppliers."

OLEDs, or organic light-emitting diodes, deliver color pictures without the need for a backlight. They consume less energy and provide a superior picture. Such screens have been a popular choice for Apple competitors of late, with Microsoft using one for its Zune HD, and Google for its Nexus One smartphone.

While the technology is superior, it is also costly. In November, one report suggested an OLED-based Apple tablet would cost between $1,500 and $1,700 to build based on current prices. It was then predicted an OLED tablet would cost about $2,000.

However, the still-unannounced Apple tablet is widely expected to have a final price of less than $1,000. Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray believes Apple could sell 1.4 million devices at an average selling price of $600.

In December, analyst Yair Reiner with Oppenheimer specifically disputed the claims of an OLED screen. He said checks within Apple's supply chain have said the device will use a 10.1-inch multi-touch display using LTPS LCD technology — the same as on the iPhone. He expects an average selling price of $1,000.

Apple is widely expected to introduce its tablet at an event on Jan. 27 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Reports have said the hardware will go on sale in March.