Apple (AAPL) has signed a 5-year deal with Korean electronics giant LG for LCD screen panels, LG disclosed in a regulatory filing. LG didn’t say how big the deal is, but it’s getting a $500 million advance from Apple, according to Reuters.
Does this mean that Apple’s display lineup will get a refresh soon?
Apple unveiled a new 24-inch display in October along with its new MacBook and MacBook Pro. But the 20-inch and 30-inch displays Apple sells are still old models.
The LG deal “could signify a major shift in Apple’s flat panel supplier and provide an indication that additional LED Cinema Display models are coming soon,” Ars Technica’s Chris Foresman writes.
We agree that new Apple displays are on the horizon — it makes sense that Apple would upgrade the rest of its display lineup with built-in cameras and their new Mini DisplayPort connector.
But we don’t know how fast it’s going to happen. We think they might wait until more computers support the new Mini DisplayPort, especially the Mac Pro, which we think a lot of 30-inch display buyers — creative professionals, video editors, etc. — use.
We’d also shy away from calling the LG deal “a major shift” in Apple’s LCD supply. “LG Display’s panels already represent more than 70 per cent of Apple’s notebooks and monitors,” Park Sang-hyun, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities, told Reuters. And Web commenters suggest Apple is already using LG panels for its current Cinema Displays.
Sounds more to us like a continuation (and possible expansion) of Apple’s existing business with LG. One potential benefit: Better pricing that leads to better margins.