Sounds like Sharp's problems are only going to get compounded with the rise in popularity of IGZO panels. But it's unclear to me why its a forgone conclusions that Sharp will not be able to maintain its competitive advantage in this technology.
I wouldn't call it a forecgone conclusion. But when you see all others -- including Samsung, LG and Auo -- are all going after oxide TFT (IGZO is an oxide TFT), it's hard to imagine how Sharp can continue to innovate.
For Sharp, its ability to continue to supply high-quality IGZO panels in volume without a hitch to all of its currrent customers AND new ones is a challenge (especially when the company is cash-strapped.)
The simple fact is that China last year became the world's largest smartphone market, passing the U.S. Obviously, China is the biggest smartphone producer. Given that, you need a solid base of high-end display suppliers locally. Why wouldn't China invest more to be the world's largest display production base?
But for that, they need to compete with the global display suppliers such as Samsung, LG, Sharp and AUO.
Meanwhile, the LCD production plants are like semiconductor fabs. You need HUGE investment in manufacturing. The question is, once you are in, can you sustain your efforts? Not every country has stomach to go for continued investmenet.
Look at where Sharp is now today. Once the global leader is completely out of cash.