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Saturday, November 26, 2011, 08:32 am PT (11:32 am ET)

Hitachi & Sony working with Apple on 4-inch iOS device, iPad 4 to see new display technology

Hitachi and Sony are reported to have teamed up to supply Apple with 4-inch LCD displays for an unspecified iOS device that will hit the market in 2012. Meanwhile, Apple is also said to be working on a fundamentally distinct display technology for the iPad 4.

Citing sources within Apple's Far Eastern supply chain, macotakara.jp claims that Hitachi Displays, Ltd. and Sony Mobile Display Corporation have begun shipments of 4-inch LCD panels to Apple for unspecified iOS device due next year.

The two companies are further reported to merge their business with Toshiba Mobile Display Co., Ltd. to form "Japan Display" in 2012 spring.

The report arrives on the heels of claims from the Wall Street Journal, which said earlier this week that Sharp will also produce panels for the iPad 3 at its Kameyama No. 2 plant in central Japan; Apple typically sources its components from multiple partners.

A person familiar with the matter further claimed Apple has invested an unspecified amount in Sharp's factories. The investment is believed to help support Sharp's production capacity for IGZO (indium, gallium, zinc) LCD panels for the next iPhone and iPad that will allow for thinner designs and improved battery performance.

"The IGZO technology is perfect in that it offers near-OLED power consumption while having a lower cost and thinness that is only 25% greater than OLED, based on our checks," said Jeffries analyst Peter Misek.

Meanwhile, macotakara.jp also cites the same sources as saying that an unspecified Taiwanese company will soon be "providing LCD technology faces" to Apple for a "fundamentally changed" iPad 4 that will be manufactured by a new process.