Apple is going to give Corning the BlackBerry treatment

“Folks, remember what BlackBerry said about the iPhone when it first came out?” William Feng asks for Seeking Alpha.

• [Apple and the iPhone is] kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers … But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it. – RIM half-CEO Jim Balsillie, February 2007.

• Again, I have said this before and I will say it again; Apple has done the industry an enormous favour because they basically told the world to expect a media player [the iPod] as a software feature on a good smartphone. As the leading smartphone appliance company and platform company, we could not buy that kind of validation for $100m. – Balsillie, April 2007.

• As nice as the Apple iPhone is, it poses a real challenge to its users. Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that’s a real challenge. You cannot see what you type. – Balsillie, November 2007.

• The most exciting mobile trend is full Qwerty keyboards. I’m sorry, it really is. I’m not making this up. – RIM half-CEO Mike Lazaridis, May 2008.

“When an innovation is being first introduced, it is always met with fierce resistance and ridicule by those who fear change. But in the end, action speaks louder than empty words and time will tell who is right and who is wrong,” Feng writes. “As history wills it, since then, Apple has risen to unprecedented heights through the success of the iPhone, while BlackBerry has faded into obscurity by stubbornly adhering to outdated traditions.”

“Now, seven years since the first iPhone was introduced, it seems that history will repeat itself once again. With the release of the upcoming iPhone 6, it is widely expected that Apple will introduce a revolutionary sapphire glass screen, and this time, standing in the way of Apple’s innovation is Corning – the maker of Gorilla Glass. Much like BlackBerry to the iPhone, Corning has ridiculed and downplayed the merits of the sapphire glass,” Feng writes. “In Corning’s arguments against the usage of sapphire glass, it has listed high production costs and inferior physical properties as its main concerns. However, Apple is well ahead of the curve and it is expected to have enough production capacity to supply the sapphire displays for both versions of the iPhone and for the iWatch. Very likely, in its partnership with GT Technologies, Apple has managed to find a way to dramatically improve the production efficiency for its sapphire screens. Moreover, based on the recently surfaced videos of the iPhone sapphire display, there is evidence that it would also be a superior product to the Corning Gorilla Glass.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Like makers of antiquated 32-bit mobile processors, Corning will still be able to supply all of the wannabe iPhone knockoff outfits ringing the globe for quite some time.

Related articles:
If Apple goes with full sapphire displays, smartphone rivals won’t be able to match – July 11, 2014
Large iPhone 6 screen looks like sapphire, says expert who spoke to Apple – July 11, 2014
In new video, purported ‘iPhone 6′ sapphire display undergoes extreme torture test – July 8, 2014


  1. Considering the Corning’s Gorilla Glass process wasn’t being used for much before Apple found a new use for it I think they have and will continue to make good use of it as a second best smart phone glass. It was and is still a good product but Apple is just the kind of company who will keep looking for better while others are already meekly satisfied.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Apple rescued Gorilla Glass from obscurity. It is a great product, and there is no need to degrade it, but sapphire is superior. Whether or not it will become a great differentiator remains to be seen. The question is how many consumers will take note of the change from one clear surface to another. After all, the value of sapphire is not in what it does, but what it doesn’t do (scratch), and this benefit doesn’t stand out in the store. Apple’s challenge will be communicating this value proposition to the average consumer.

      1. Hmm. Not really. Customers won’t be choosing an iPhone with Gorilla glass and an iPhone with sapphire. iPhones will have sapphire. And this isn’t a decision factor between an Android/Windows device and an iPhone. It’s a differences, but I doubt someone will abandon an iPhone purchase because it doesn’t have gorilla glass.

    2. Apple will still use it significantly, in every iPhone model except for the latest. The iPhone 5s and 5c will no doubt continue in the lineup as the lower cost iPhone options. As far as I know, iPad will continue to use it, and that’s a lot more “glass per unit.” Plus iPod touch.

      In terms of pure “volume,” Apple will use MORE Gorilla Glass than sapphire during the coming year.

      1. Which is why I am still respectful of Corning’s product. But as Apple has learned it’s better to be the company that comes up with something better preempting yourself than let someone else do it and be left in the cold.

    1. While Gorilla Glass isn’t “doomed”, it almost certainly will be considered to be yesterday’s technology once something better came along. That’s the way of the world.

    2. On the contrary, Apple has been working to make this prime time for sapphire glass in quantity. The factories are there. Hundreds of the latest furnaces are churning out massive sapphire boules.

      It is prime time for sapphire. Time will tell whether or not GG is “doomed.” But it certainly going to decline in reputation and become a display material for second-tier products.

      1. There are still bugs in the sapphire mass production process. That’s specifically what I’m talking about. It will happen. But this is bleeding edge technology and therefore expected to require time and effort to perfect. When Apple put their mind to it, no one comes closer to perfection.

  2. Except that Apple had a relationship with Corning that made it billions while Apple’s relationship with Blackberry did nothing but relegate it to the “other” column in smartphone percentage of market rankings.

    Otherwise, totally the same.

  3. I don’t know the internal company issues that led to Apple making it’s own Sapphire glass (or even if they are going to use it) but I suspect from Apple’s history Apple goes into design and production on it’s own because suppliers can’t or do not want to accommodate Apple (rather than Apple trying to hurt anybody) .

    For example Apple went to designing it’s own processors for iPhones because suppliers couldn’t or refused to build what Apple wanted.
    Chip makers wanted to build generic chips for a larger number of clients — the chips were filled with redundant components (for apple) as they were designed to fulfil a wide range of different client needs and they often ‘dumbed down’ the chips (for example speed, no 64 bit) because their other clients didn’t want to spend the money for them — so Apple was forced to go their own way.

    Look at Intel, new Macs are stuck with minor speed bumps because Intel doesn’t want to radically improve it’s chips performance as their cheapo PC clients don’t want to pay much for chips.

    I suspect Apple’s Sapphire glass foray has something similar in the background.

  4. Sapphire can be used for more than just display screens. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sapphire has so many industrial and medical uses. Apple and GT Advanced Technologies are going to lower the price of sapphire to be used in possibly many more applications. Imagine Apple using sapphire in tens of millions of displays. That’s a huge jump in sapphire production by probably orders of magnitude. I don’t quite understand Corning, though. Practically every other smartphone company on the planet will be continuing to use Gorilla Glass except Apple, so why the sour grapes. It was Apple that turned the tide in favor of companies using Gorilla Glass. Corning’s CEO should just keep his trap shut about what Apple can and can’t do.

    These people never seem to learn. Apple has an absolutely huge amount of cash and the incentive to come out with new ideas to use with its products. Saying Apple can’t accomplish something is almost like double-daring someone to do something. But in Apple’s case it simply needs to find the right component to turn the products into the way they want them to be.

    Apple seems to have the combination to do practically anything it wants from undersea communication cables, to low-orbit satellites to robotic factories. Almost no project is too expensive for Apple to tackle. I honestly don’t understand why Wall Street doesn’t give Apple the credit due.

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