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Apple's new sapphire partner hints at much larger plans for material

updated 10:55 am EST, Thu November 7, 2013

Could even suggest switch from Gorilla Glass to sapphire

GT Advanced Technologies -- Apple's new sapphire production partner -- is planning to make sapphire the majority of its business thanks to the deal, an earnings call reveals. Year-to-date, GT's sapphire business has only accounted for 11 percent of its sales. In forecasting 2014 revenue, though, the company says it expects that 80 percent of $600 million to $800 million in revenue will come from sapphire, a dramatic shift in its strategy.

The forecast may suggest that Apple has much bigger plans for sapphire than it's currently pursuing. At the moment, the company uses sapphire only in iPhone camera lenses, and the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s. Rumors have hinted that it could replace the Corning Gorilla Glass protecting the displays of iOS devices; that would, however, be an expensive prospect, especially in the case of the iPad.

More likely in the next year is the addition of Touch ID sensors to iPads and iPod touches. Sapphire could also be used to guard the display of the still-unreleased iWatch, which should have a much smaller screen (under 2 inches) and will need to be more rugged than an iPhone.

by MacNN Staff




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