Why did Apple just snap up the entire planet’s supply of sapphire glass?

“During a Town Hall Hangout Wednesday, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth made comments about sapphire displays that the company was planning for its own Ubuntu Edge smartphone — a concept announced by Canonical in July of 2013,” Brooke Crothers reports for CNET. “‘Apple just snapped up three year’s worth of the supply of sapphire screens from the company that we had engaged to make the screens for the Edge,’ he said.”

“Which brings us to the rumored next-gen Apple device, possibly the iPhone 6. That too may use a sapphire display, not unlike the sapphire crystal Apple already uses for the cover glass on the iPhone 5S’ rear camera and Touch ID fingerprint scanner,” Crothers reports. “In November of 2013, Apple signed a deal with GT Advanced Technology, a sapphire manufacturer. That plant, a ‘new state-of-the-art sapphire material manufacturing facility’ in Mesa, Arizona is being readied for production of the rumored 5-inch class display for a future iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Sidestepping the fact that crowdfunding for the ‘superphone’ had failed dismally, Shuttleworth used an online discussion to moan about Apple’s new sapphire fetish,” Jasper Hamill writes for The Register. “‘Isn’t it interesting that how many of the things we said the future needed to include are showing up on other people’s roadmaps?” he asked. “Apple has also started describing their latest-generation mobile CPUs as desktop-class. That’s another thing we said we needed to have in the Edge, a desktop-class CPU. And we’re starting to see the roadmaps for the devices from Samsung and others that have the same amount of RAM we were proposing to put in the Edge.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A three-year supply of screens for a proposed Ubuntu phone? Even if it were to get funded (which it isn’t), what’s that, about 11 screens total?

Related articles:
Canonical CEO: Apple just bought up a 3-year supply of sapphire displays – February 19, 2014
Mesa, Arizona mayor woos Apple; new sapphire facility capable of producing 2X current worldwide capacity – February 10, 2014
Apple just procured enough Sapphire Crystal furnaces to make 100-200 million 5-inch iPhone displays – February 6, 2014
Apple pushes for Arizona sapphire plant to go into production in February for ‘critical’ product component – January 30, 2014
Apple makes at least 100 prototype next-generation iPhone units with sapphire-covered displays – January 24, 2014
Apple patent application details uses for synthetic sapphire glass – January 23, 2014
Apple partner GT Advanced recruiting for Jobs at Arizona sapphire plant – January 21, 2014
Apple patent application reveals sapphire flexible transparent display devices created with Liquidmetal – December 19, 2013
iPhone 6 rumors: Curved display, Liquidmetal, sapphire glass, and more – December 11, 2013
Apple spends over half a billion dollars on rumored iPhone 6 sapphire glass feature – November 29, 2013
Arizona OKs tax break for Apple sapphire glass plant – November 20, 2013
Incentives to lure Apple’s sapphire glass plant to Arizona revealed – November 19, 2013
Analyst: Sapphire likely to be used in new small form factor Apple device (Think iWatch) – November 8, 2013
GTAT able to supply sapphire for over 30 million iPhone screen covers due to Apple funding – November 8, 2013
Apple’s iPhone 6 could feature unmatched sapphire glass display – November 7, 2013
Why Apple’s new sapphire manufacturing agreement is a big deal – November 7, 2013
GT Advanced Technologies spikes on sapphire deal with Apple – November 5, 2013
Apple expands ‘Made in USA’ efforts with sapphire glass factory in Arizona, creating over 2,000 jobs – November 4, 2013
Apple strikes sapphire supply deal with GT Advanced – November 4, 2013
Gorilla glass maker Corning enters into strategic partnership with Samsung Display – October 23, 2013
Sapphire glass may be used in 2014 iPhone Retina display, sources say – September 18, 2013
Vertu COO: Apple investigated sapphire crystal displays, but found them infeasible at this time – June 13, 2013
Corning’s Gorilla Glass vs. sapphire for mobile touch displays – May 28, 2013
Apple’s next iPhone screen could be made of Sapphire – May 2, 2013
Steve Jobs, steel balls and Corning’s Gorilla Glass (with video) – January 11, 2013


  1. Now now MDN, don’t be mean.

    The Ubuntu phone looks to be a good alternative for those who want more control into the inner workings of their phone than iPhone allows, but don’t want to be stuck with the coppycat Android or POS Winphone.

    Just because it is not Apple doesn’t make it Evil or Stupid.

    While I have no interest in owning one it is interesting, and I have several coworkers who are hoping to get their hands on one someday.

    1. No. Being stupid is what makes it stupid. They’re trying a mini Microsoft move – cash in on a name value (Ubuntu) and try an OS Everywhere strategy.

      How’s Microsoft doing with that?

    2. You mean like 1% of the market maybe. I agree. I want one. I want to be able write software that has full control of my phone and not worry about the crazy amount of crap you have to do to run it and distribute it. I’d like an Ubuntu phone. I want to write software for my phone that … whoops … I almost gave away another $19 billion dollar idea!

  2. The diference is that Apple does not “Plan” or “dream” putting a desktop class CPU on it iOS devices, they already did.
    Other difference with that edge unbutu funding is that Apple has the ways and means, all the resources to make the phone, unbutu funding only have intentions, that’s it.
    Besides, apple created the real smartphone cathegory so in a way, unbutu is the one stepping in apple’s roadmap.

  3. Like no one else can project what future phones might have once components are designed or made possible and haven’t actually done so well before this Shuttleworth goofball? All this work is kept quiet before introduction in this competitive market so it’s a bit disingenuous and egotistical for this idiot to think he was first to think of it.

    1. And everyone else in the industry looks around and asks, “What is available to put into my new smartphone?” Apple asks, “What should a smart phone be capable of?”, and then it goes out and creates the pieces necessary to do that.

      1. How can there be two so very different kinds of people? Can it be that they are influenced by their organisations? I think so. The mission of most companies is to cash in and cash out. A few try to change the world.

  4. So this guy is saying that Apple are taking a lot of their ideas? Improving the quality of components is hardly a unique or even new idea. Apple have been leading the world in that for years. I would suggest that when this guy thought of it Apple were already well at work on these developments. Apple staff don’t just get up one morning and decide to order 3 years supply of a material with no previous research as to why they’re doing it.

    1. Sure he is, and of course, Apple would NEVER have thought to use sapphire glass, a desktop-class processor, low-power Bluetooth, or any other improvement in its products without someone else crowing about their plans first. It’s not like Apple has its products road mapped out for years, you know. /s

      Funny how he’s also complaining that Apple bought up 3 years’ worth of sapphire glass that his company was planning to use some day. So the sapphire glass producer should just wait to see if your crowd funded (or crowd unfunded, as the case seems to be) phone is actually ever built? Sorry, but if Apple comes calling with a Big Bag O’Money, your little non-producing company is out on its arse.

  5. It looks like nobody here understood what this Ubuntu Edge phone is supposed to be, so let me clear this up.

    There is no device like it today (perhaps because nobody really needs one). It is a mobile phone a dual-boot OS. As a phone, it runs Android, using its standard multi-touch display. However, if you re-boot into Ubuntu, it runs as a regular desktop Linux computer. You hook it up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and you have your full desktop, running full desktop applications.

    This may be along the lines of “Windows Everywhere” philosophy, but presumably, the Ubuntu partition would really be a full-blown Linux desktop, with proper compatibility with Linux desktop applications.

    Now, how many consumers out there would love to get their hands on a Linux desktop computer that doubles as an Android cellphone….?

    1. Thanks for the explanation. Had no interest in looking it up, so your input is appreciated.

      My one question is, would the phone still work when booted into Ubuntu? I just don’t see someone basically turning off their phone simply to have access to the desktop component.

      1. I think that’s the kicker, making it a dealbreaker for pretty much everyone outside of the ultra-geeky circles. Like any computer, it can only boot into one or the other system. Nowhere on their site do they imply that it can run either of the two in a virtualised environment inside the other (like VMWare Fusion, or Parallels). For the ultra-geeky, such functionality would be the ultimate titilation (imagine running a desktop OS as a virtual machine inside a phone OS; or the other way round), but how lucrative such a minuscule market would be..?

    2. “how many consumers out there would love to get their hands on a Linux desktop computer that doubles as an Android cellphone?”

      Answer: very, very few. Why would I want to have to take my phone out, reboot it into a completely different OS (so my phone no longer works), connect a monitor, mouse and keyboard (and just where are these ports?), just to have a desktop computer? Uh, no thanks.

      This is an answer to a question no one has asked.

  6. Bogus headline MDN, Apple hasn’t bought up the entire world supply of sapphire glass, they’ve just bought the company that was streamlining the process of making large pieces of sapphire cheaply. I imagine the Swiss watch industry would be up in arms if they couldn’t source any more watch crystals (that’s the glass in high end watches, not the oscillator).

  7. “Isn’t it interesting that how many of the things we said the future needed to include are showing up on other people’s roadmaps?”

    WHEW! I’m getting dizzy from that amount of spin.

  8. “Isn’t it interesting that how many of the things we said the future needed to include are showing up on other people’s roadmaps?”

    Yea, there just now starting to TALK about what Apple’s been working on for years.

    Very interesting.

  9. Evident Envy:
    Apple has also started describing their latest-generation mobile CPUs as desktop-class. That’s another thing we said we needed to have in the Edge, a desktop-class CPU.

    But did you DESIGN and MANUFACTURE one? And was it 64-bit? Hmmmm?????

    Execution is everything.

  10. I think the “journalist” didn’t do any journalism here.

    Canonical claims Apple bought up the supply of sapphire they would have dipped into… except that Apple supplier contracts are incredibly unforgiving should their name be mentioned as a customer.

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