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LG Loses Exclusive Supplier Contract for Apple's In-Cell Displays

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Apple's exclusive deal with LG Display for in-cell displays has now expired and Apple hasn't renewed their contract with LG. While no official reason was given for Apple letting the contract expire without renewal, we reported back in December 2012 that Apple's new In-Cell Displays may be Root of Production Problems of the iPhone 5. Apple may have lost confidence in LG due to the delays to the iPhone 5 or Apple may have simply decided to use a different technology. For now, LG is making it clear that it will pursue the In-Cell market independently with its own technology.


In 2012 we noted that Wintek executives were planning to meet with Apple in Cupertino to discuss panel orders. Chinese OGS (One Glass Solution) panel maker Truly Semiconductors' product design manager Chen Xuebin told the National Business Daily that the conformity rate of OGS panels would increase 70% or more compared to that of In-Cell panels. With Wintek being on Apple's official list of suppliers for 2014 (PDF), they may have sealed the deal. Yet officially, there's been no confirmation. 


To save face, LG is now saying that they had been experiencing numerous limitations bound by an agreement for exclusive supply right with Apple, which holds a number of patents. LG Display can now broaden the scope of its movements as the exclusive supply agreement has expired recently and it has secured "Advanced In-cell Touch (AIT)" technology to avoid limitations imposed by Apple's patents.


The report further noted that LG Display developed AIT to circumvent Apple's patents. The biggest difference between AIT with In-cell touch display for Apple is that it is applied with self-capacitance technology, which evolved from the conventional touch type to an individual recognition of the fingers touching the display. Apple has adopted mutual-capacitance technology to concurrently recognize a multiple number of fingers. Interestingly enough, Apple was just granted another in-cell technology patent today that indeed confirms the report's statements regarding Apple's touch screen technology being based on "mutual-capacitance."


Although self-capacitance technology was commercialized before mutual-capacitance, it had been associated with limitations in multi-touch. However, LG Display improved self-capacitance technology to break down the electrode into block units, and thus drastically increased sensing precision. According to a high-ranking official from LG display, "Multi-touch is successfully implemented with self-capacitance technology. The design structure is completely different from Apple's In-cell touch."


LG has a long standing relationship with Apple which is likely to continue on different levels. However, LG's paranoia of possibly being sued for selling similar technology to Apple's competitors, has them out in the press in force to make it crystal clear that their In-Cell technology uses a completely different process than that which was used in producing Apple's displays.


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