“Apple Inc. has decided that it will change iPhone casings from metal to glass to differentiate itself in the saturated global smartphone market in 2017, according to Allen Horng, chairman and chief executive of Catcher Technology, a key supplier,” Cheng Ting-Fang reports for Nikkei. “There has been media speculation that the Taiwanese metal casing maker will lose Apple business next year to China’s Biel Crystal Manufactory and Lens Technology, which already supplies glass screen covers for iPhones.”

“‘As far as I know, only one [iPhone] model will adopt glass casing next year,’ Horng told reporters after the annual shareholder meeting on Thursday. ‘I don’t think this move will have an impact on Catcher’s revenue as glass casing still needs a durable metal frame which requires advanced processing technology and would not be cheaper than the current model,'” Ting-Fang reports. “Horng said there will be no Apple handsets using glass-only casings without metal frames next year.”

“Catcher is now deciding whether to supply smartphone makers in China to mitigate the risk of Apple’s move to glass casing,” Ting-Fang reports. “One reason for Apple to phase in glass casings is pressure on Chief Executive Tim Cook to improve sales by making iPhones more distinctive, according to Jeff Pu, an analyst at Yuanta Investment Consulting. ‘Apple’s decision would definitely hurt Catcher while giving a major boost to Biel Crystal Manufactory and Lens Technology,’ said Pu.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Make that “former Apple supplier.” Well, if Steve were alive.

Now, is this “glass” Gorilla glass or is it bulk metallic glass (as in: Liquidmetal) or both?

The timeframe would be right for Apple to begin using Liquidmetal in earnest.

I estimate that Apple will likely spend on the order of $300 million to $500 million — and three to five years — to mature the technology before it can used in large scale. — Dr. Atakan Peker, one of the Caltech researchers who invented Liquidmetal, May 2012

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