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Apple in talks to open new iPhone factory in Japan

Apple is reportedly looking to open a new screen manufacturing plant in Japan, following talks with a domestic supplier.

Japan Display is the world’s largest maker of smartphone screens and is rumoured to have staged discussions about opening the factory in the Ishikawa Prefecture of central Japan.

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The plant would cost an estimated ¥200 billion (£1.1 billion) to develop, with Apple believed to be taking on most of the cost.

Numerous sources in the Japanese press, including Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, have leaked details of the Japan Display talks. The factory would be scheduled to open in 2016 and manufacture LCD panels for the iPhone and other devices, including those not made by Apple.

However, the collaboration with Japan Display is thought to be far from finalised, with Apple reportedly in talks with other suppliers.

“No formal decision has been made regarding any matter that we need to disclose," said a spokesperson for Japan Display.

Last year, the chief executive of Japan Display Shuichi Otsuka explained that his firm was looking to expand its manufacturing capacity, after its plant in Mobara reached its maximum output. Considering the recent growth in popularity of Apple’s iPhone in Asian markets, the opening of a new factory could prove extremely lucrative for the Japanese company.

Japan Display already supplies screens for Apple devices, but the proposed factory would cement relations between the two firms. The improved performance of the iPhone in Asia has already seen Japan Display return to profit after experiencing losses in the previous two quarters.

Regardless of whether a deal for the new factory is finalised, Apple will be hoping that the continued production of its iPhone screens goes more smoothly than it has in the past.

Read more: The sapphire revolution that never was

One of Apple’s proposed suppliers of sapphire glass screens, GT Advanced Technologies, filed for bankruptcy late last year, causing the Cupertino-based firm to reconsider using the material in its handsets.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.