How Apple’s billion dollar sapphire bet will pay off big time

“Apple is making a billion dollar bet on sapphire as a strategic material for mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and perhaps an iWatch,” John Cox reports for Network World. “Though exactly what the company plans to do with the scratch-resistant crystal – and when – is still the subject of debate.”

“Apple is creating its own supply chain devoted to producing and finishing synthetic sapphire crystal in unprecedented quantities. The new Mesa, Ariz., plant, in a partnership with sapphire furnace maker GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) of Merrimack, N.H., will make Apple one of the world’s largest sapphire producers when it reaches full capacity, probably in late 2014,” Cox reports. “By doing so, Apple is assured of a very large amount of sapphire and insulates itself from the ups and downs of sapphire material pricing in the global market.”

“The Arizona project was revealed in November, with Apple paying $578 million for GTAT to install and run its advanced sapphire growth furnaces in a plant built and owned by Apple,” Cox reports. “The news triggered a frenzy of speculation that Apple planned to use sapphire crystal sheets to replace the glass currently used in touch displays for its 2014 iPhones, iPads or a new line of ‘wearables’ such as the long-rumored iWatch, or all of the above.”

“That’s only the tip of Apple’s investment. Once the 253-pound “hockey puck” shaped sapphire boules emerge from the furnaces, they’ll be shipped to Apple’s supply chain partners in Asia, including Biel Crystal Manufactory and Lens One Technology Co., for slicing, polishing, laser cutting, coating and eventual assembly,” Cox reports. “But to do all this, these companies, and Apple, will have to invest heavily in new equipment that can handle sapphire, since only diamond is harder, and handle it in the quantities that Apple will produce. That’s not a simple process.”

Tons more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

Related articles:
Apple sapphire crystal display rumors buoy GT Advanced stock – March 17, 2014
Apple, GT Advanced Technologies, and the ‘new’ vertical integration – February 27, 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. GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) stock is looking extremely cheap to me right now. May be a good idea for me to pour some more money into it before Apple lets the cat out of the bag regarding their synthetic sapphire plans.

  2. I still think the sapphire goes into the iWatch this year, and then the 6s iPhone next year — not both this year. The “s” often stands for something. Speed. Security. Steve. I’m thinking the 6s is 6sapphire.

  3. So, what else is Apple building plants for? Solar farms with Apple’s Fuel Cell technology for? Several billion dollar server farms (some disclosed and others no one is looking for)? Apple is building a foundation for things that may be much bigger that anyone understands for products and markets only found in Apple research departments.

    Think Different! It still applies to Apple. The engineers, programers and scientists haven’t left.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.