Qualcomm Collaborating, Investing in Sharp Electronics

Qualcomm said on Tuesday that subsidiary Pixtronix is expanding its display technology agreement with Sharp Corporation. Both parties will develop and commercialize high-quality color, low-power MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) displays incorporating IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) technology. These displays will be built utilizing existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm said it is making an equity investment in Sharp Corporation, thus becoming a minority shareholder in Sharp. Qualcomm's equity investment will take place in stages and the consummation of the transaction is subject to certain contingencies, Qualcomm said.

"Qualcomm's equity investment in Sharp and the expanded joint development agreement build upon the existing work between Sharp and Pixtronix as the two companies have been engaged in development activities for the last year and a half," the company stated on Tuesday. "The goal of this joint effort is to accelerate commercialization of Pixtronix's low power MEMS displays utilizing Sharp's IGZO technology."

In a separate announcement, Sharp said that it is planning to accept up to 9.9 billion yen ($120 million USD) from Qualcomm in equity investment to pursue the joint development. The capitol will not only be used to develop the MEMS displays, but to make sure it reaches commercialization. The company said the agreement also includes the possibility of further collaboration of Qualcomm chipsets.

"With this agreement, Sharp will accelerate its strategy for growth in small- to medium- sized LCD business with IGZO-based display technology as its core, and expand its revenue and corporate value," Sharp said on Tuesday.

The New York Times adds that news of Sharp's collaboration with Quaslcomm arrives after the struggling Japanese electronics giant issued a warning last month about its ability to keep operating. With this new joint effort, Sharp said that it would issue 4.9 billion yen ($59.7 million USD) worth of new shares to Qualcomm. It has also secured a second investment of 5 billion yen from Qualcomm.

"Expanding our existing relationship with Sharp to jointly commercialize new MEMS display technologies will help both companies realize their shared goal of driving high performance, lower power displays for a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets,” said Derek Aberle, executive vice president and group president of Qualcomm.

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