mannerisms

Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.

Sharp’s The Word For In The Claggy

Renesas is not the only Japanese company in the claggy. Sharp has debts of $12.76 billion, $9 billion of which mature withing a year,  and cash of $2.75bn, according to Bloomberg, and is seeking to shrink its workforce by another 3,000 employees on top of the 5,000 lay-offs announced earlier this month.

The company is currently forecasting a $3.2 billion  loss for the year.

Sharp has been trying to sell a 10% stake in the company to Foxconn, the China contract assembly company, but Foxconn has insisted on a renegotiation of the deal as Sharp’s shares have kept falling.

It is said that the original price of 550 Yen making the 10% stake worth $67 billion Yen  has been renegotiated to be the ‘average’ price of Sharp shares, now at under 200 Yen.

Sharp has been reported as trying to sell its TV flat panel plants in Mexico and China to Foxconn. It is also said to be considering selling its copier business, its air conditioning business, a  Japanese display factory and its Japan-based solar-battery plant.

Of the $12.76bn debt, $4.25bn is said to be short-term debt repayable within a year; $4.56bn is commercial paper; $2.39bn is in the form of corporate bonds; and $1.56bn is long-term debt.

Tags: china contract, plants, renegotiation, renesas, workforce

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19 Comments

  1. Another Anonymous
    September 15, 2012 04:31

    Ah, a case of golden ear magic or a crappy codec?

  2. Mike Bryant
    September 15, 2012 03:32

    Sorry guys but anonymous is correct here. Anyone decent working in pro-audio can tell an MP3 track immediately at any bit-rate, and indeed they should be able to tell a CD track from the 24 bit master as well. But I totally agree Joe Public often doesn’t care about the difference even if they can hear it.
    @Anonymous : Some Samsungs do use Sharp panels. It may be you chose one of those. Hard to tell without taking the set apart :-)

  3. Anonymous
    September 14, 2012 22:33

    Rather late, but two pennies…
    I guess I must be Joe Public when it comes to TV… My shorter half & I went to our nearest John Lewis & had a good look around several times before buying our latest TV about a year ago. We chose one purely on which we agreed had the best picture among the multitude on display, and we unanimously decided on a Samsung 40″ Smart TV. I agree that there’s plenty of scope for improvement on the user interface though.
    When it comes to audio, I conclude that I’m not human… A few years ago a mate of mine tried to demonstrate that WMA compression was indistinguishable from uncompressed by playing me various tracks from CD & also ripped to 128k MP3, 256k MP3 & WMA. He was a bit annoyed that I could identify which was which when he couldn’t, but anyhow he then stuck on a CD & we got down to the serious business of putting the world to rights with the aid of a few bottles of choice ale. A couple of hours later I announced that I should probably get off home on account of I’d probably had enough to drink because his stereo had started sounding mangled to me. He looked a bit sheepish & then said he’d get me another beer & while has was up he’d put a CD back on instead of the 256k MP3 rip that he’d just put on to see if I’d notice.
    These days I create quite a lot of music using Sonar X1, and most definitely by the time you’ve spent several weeks mixing a track it’s quite easy to hear the difference between a WAV & an MP3 of the finished track.

  4. Anonymous
    September 11, 2012 12:00

    ABX-testing (blind testing) high-bitrate MP3′s (256kbit) with uncompressed equivalent shows that it is impossible for humans to discern any difference.

  5. Brian Pollard
    September 11, 2012 11:39

    What mp3 compression are you referring to? Frequency response? Same as CDs Dynamic range -same as CDs (though not all at once – after all you cannot hear a pin drop immediately after listening to a pneumatic drill.

  6. Mike Bryant
    September 08, 2012 09:56

    I think either of those solutions is more than acceptable to the ears. It’s the source that’s usually the problem – MP3 compression is certainly an affront to my ears.

  7. Keith
    September 08, 2012 08:55

    @Mike, sorry a typo, not 1998 but in fact 2007…

  8. Anonymous
    September 08, 2012 08:07

    It’s a game of diminishing returns unless you are geeking out to the max on some matters.
    A consumer audio example: compare properly amped (and excellent) Sennheiser HD650′s with the HD800′s. Is there an improvement? Certainly, however, ‘worth’ triple the price? Perhaps no, unless the price is irrelevant. Though, few Joe’s have that luxury.

  9. Mike Bryant
    September 07, 2012 22:04

    @ Keith : Well I don’t think the techniques used in modern panels were even thought about in 1998. Indeed even in early 2005 LCD TVs were more or less unwatchable.
    @Anon : I agree with you but still find it surprising that humans can’t see the glaring differences between a cheapo panel and a proper one.

  10. Anonymous
    September 07, 2012 20:39

    There is for sure a market for premium quality TV’s, however there are other aspects as well, for example: Joe P with a blurry vision and on a tight budget probably will prefer that 46″ Samsung with a so-so panel over a similarly priced 40″ Sharp albeit with a top-notch display.
    Moral: Give customers options and adapt your business quickly

  11. Keith
    September 07, 2012 18:48

    Well I’ll assume I’m Joe Public then. My Samsung LCD TV, bought early this year, has a much better picture than the Sony Bravia one, bought in 1998.
    The software on both of them is still crap. There’s still room for an Apple to give a simple GUI to a tv/recorder and make them easy to use instead of trying to figure out which button does what…

  12. Mike Bryant
    September 07, 2012 15:29

    I’d still rate Sharp’s panels as some of the best around. Look at some of the new ‘Philips’ models (actually made by someone else now under name licence) using Sharp panels and they are visibly better than the ones not doing so.
    Somy meanwhile walked away from their JV with Sharp and by the look of their latest models are now getting their panels elsewhere.
    But as Scunnerous says Joe Public doesn’t appreciate quality. I can understand why most people can’t hear how appalingly bad some audio equipment is but I’d always assumed mankind’s most developed sense would feature better in a greater percentage of the population. Maybe Sharp also assumed that a higher percentage of people would be able to see the difference than actually can.

  13. Stooriefit
    September 07, 2012 10:45

    Marketing can also be blamed for kidding themselves that 3D TV was going to be big.
    Just as the 3D TV thing was kicking off I spoke with a guy who has made the study of depth perception his life’s work and asked him if stereo vision was going to cut it.
    He was categorical in his reply – No, the 3D perception people rely on for building up a solid model of the world in their head is from parallax, the different rates of apparent movement objects have depending upon how far away they are. Stereo vision is better for producing signals for motor control and instinctive responses, and pretty hopeless at giving people a sense of immersion in a 3D world.
    Maybe that is why sport on 3D TV is more satisfying than feature films and documentaries? I don’t know, it didn’t do it for me so I didn’t buy one … Whatever – the evidence was there that, even if they could think of a way of doing it without making everyone wear Groucho Marx glasses, it was going to have limited appeal.
    A real case of “if wishes were horses” I think.

  14. Scunnerous
    September 06, 2012 23:55

    I’m not so sure Sharp lost the “urge to be better” – rather they overestimated the consumer’s capacity to appreciate quality. In LCDs, monitors and TVs, they had high-tech, difficult to manufacture solutions which were arguably the best but which were relatively expensive. Joe Public wants cheap n cheerful, which is why Samsung’s lousy PVA LCD cell dominates – it’s “good enough”.
    Most likely it boils down to miscommunication between Marketing, Production and the Labs.

  15. David Manners
    September 06, 2012 21:51

    That’s true, Stooriefit, but only about 20 years ago Sharp had half the world market for LCD. To have got itself into this state suggests that the old urge to be better than everyone else at something evaporated.

  16. Stooriefit
    September 06, 2012 21:42

    It isn’t a puzzle, but it is a shame.
    We complain that the semiconductor industry is no longer populated by directors prepared to bet the farm on a new venture, and when one does, three times over, it goes awry.

  17. David Manners
    September 06, 2012 21:04

    Big bet on solar – now solar’s over-supplied; big bet on LCD – that’s over-supplied; big bet on TV – also over-supplied. And the company’s run by a relative of the founder.

  18. Mike Bryant
    September 06, 2012 20:09

    You do wonder how a company that supplies most major television companies, Apple and countless other high volume applications can get it all so wrong.

  19. Anonymous
    September 06, 2012 05:46

    The technological positive feedback loop and resource scarcity comet that struck earth have changed the ecosystem. If we don’t find any new cheap energy to replace oil; this will only accelerate:
    There will be a shrinking habitat for old, slow (and bloated) corporate dinosaurs. Either you are the absolute elite at what you do, or someone else will outcompete you with less.
    These days we have awesome hobbyists for example building cruise missiles, using readily available off the shelf software, tooling and hardware. Not to mention nutty ex. South Africans building space faring rockets for relative peanuts.
    http://www.interestingprojects.com/cruisemissile/
    http://www.spacex.com
    Be gone mediocre, old and clunky, welcome elite, lean and mean.

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