Apple's sapphire source declares bankruptcy

Apple's sapphire source declares bankruptcy
GT Technologies, the company that partnered with Apple on a sapphire producing facility in Mesa, Arizona, has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Under terms of their agreement, GT was expected to produce $578 million worth of synthetic sapphires for Apple. The sapphire is used by Apple for the Apple Watch, and for the camera and the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the Apple iPhone.

Of course, there was speculation for months about whether Apple would use a sapphire screen on the Apple iPhone 6 and Apple iPhone 6 Plus. But instead of using the material, one of the hardest on earth after diamonds, Apple decided to go with its own ion-strengthened glass. According to news that came out after the two new models were unveiled, Apple was indeed planning on equipping both new handsets with a sapphire glass screen. But Biel and Lens Technologies, the finishers for the sapphire, reportedly had yields of only 25% which was not high enough to ensure enough of a supply for Apple. Instead, the tech giant used the finished product it received for the Apple Watch.


Under Chapter 11, GT Technologies will continue to operate while it offers up a restructuring plan that will have to be agreed to by the bankruptcy court. In the meantime, GT will not be forced to make debt payments until the restructuring is agreed to by the court. While Apple still might look to GT for sapphire production, the latter company will have to resort to less favorable debtor-in-possession financing to run the business. As of the end of last month, the company had $85 million in cash

source: TechCrunch

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74 Comments

1. brar.arsh

Posts: 202; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

Apple is to blame?

8. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Yes and no. Yes because Apple decided to go another way and use their ion strengthened glass on the iPhones instead of sapphire. No because the low yields led to that decision. I would think with all the money Apple has, they could bankroll the project to bring the yields up, unless sapphire is only viable for smaller pieces like their home button, watch screens, and camera lenses.

18. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

I suspect that Apple realized that Sapphire is not ready for prime time as a display material. Once that decision was made, GT's goose was cooked. Nothing like being iScrewed.

45. AlikMalix unregistered

It clearly states that Apple dropped the order because GT could not fulfil the order - not even close - what the hell do expect Apple to do?

51. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Oh, okay, so every time a problem arises, these companies should cut bait and run? How the hell would any breakthroughs ever happen? You have to keep working on it until either you can achieve what you want or determine if costs are too great for the end result. And when did I call out Apple on this. When I said it was partly Apple's fault, it was only that because they pulled their money that these guys ended up filing for bankruptcy. I never said that Apple was in the wrong for doing so, but only that if they ever want to use sapphire for more than camera lenses and home buttons they need to keep the r&d going. FFS I don't even say anything bad about Apple yet I'm perceived as doing so. Gotta luv f#%king fanboys.

66. ecmedic4

Posts: 520; Member since: May 02, 2013

Im not sure if you noticed, but AlikMalix response was to Droid_X_Doug, as it says "in response to #18". He was not jumping your case over your comment.

72. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

And his post was along the lines of what I was saying. If someone says something and someone else agrees with him, then I call the second guy out, am I not calling both of them out?

68. Enddo

Posts: 53; Member since: May 26, 2014

The company has/had 85 million in cash. If that's not enough to continue with the development process, then they shouldn't have signed the deal and over promised

21. maherk

Posts: 6704; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Apple has nothing to do with these, I believe that they couldn't produce enough panels for the new iPhone and that's why Apple went with the Gorilla Glass 3 (ion strengthened glass is a pure marketing crap). They won't delay the iPhone release because this company lacks the resources to fill their demand.

30. NexusPhan

Posts: 632; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

The iPhone no longer uses Corning Gorilla Glass. Apple went the cheap route and used a generic, off-brand or knock-off, depending on how you look at it.

33. AlikMalix unregistered

Link? Proof? if it's different material, can you prove it's cheap knockoff? Any supporting evidence? Or did you just made that up?

48. maherk

Posts: 6704; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Well thinking about it, I remember watching videos of people complaining about how easily the iPhone 6's glass is scratched. So yeah, it might be true that Apple went with a cheaper alternative to Corning Gorilla Glass, since Apple usually brags about it when they go with a well known suppliers for the iPhone's hardware.

36. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

Source, please? Apple has never stated that they used GG, but if it wasn't for Apple, GG would have never been made for use on smartphone screens.

39. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

The LG Prada used a capacitive screen, too. Thanks. Lets stop it with we would still be in the smart phone stone ages if it wasnt for Apple...

43. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

1. The Prada was widely adopted in what universe and is the predecessor to what that still exists? 2. I stated GG...Gorilla Glass. Corning had never made the stuff outside a lab until Steve Jobs asked them for glass that had certain characteristics. Plastic was still the most popular screen choice prior to the iPhone, with very few handsets even using a tempered glass. The original iPhone launched GG into the mainstream.

83. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

"but if it wasn't for Apple, GG would have never been made for use on smartphone screens." implies that no one else was going to make it main stream. If the Prada also used a capacitive screen......and hind sight... if the iPhone never comes out...it was going to happen anyway. The Prada was a victim of poor product execution, timing and marketing. Like how MS was working on motion controls well before the Wii launched, they were consultants on the movie Minority Report... and yet Nintendo gets all the credit for the advancements in motion controls. Like how they also were working on Surface tech well before the iPad....and yet we know who gets the credit for tablets becoming main stream. It was gonna happen anyway with or without Apple. Just like the PC market. Maybe its Apple....but I hate when they get credit for so many things in technology. I give them credit for the Newton, which failed and Palm picked up the reigns for the PDA market. I am just glad their gaming console also failed...or we would be hearing how "if it wasnt for Apple....." We dont say "if it wasnt for____" when talking about HDTV's do we? Or Blu Ray players.... because it doesnt really matter as long as we can enjoy the tech.... thats all that matters...

32. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

APple didn't use Gorilla Glass. They used some cheap crap. Yet they increased the cost of the phone a full $100 and gave nothing.

34. AlikMalix unregistered

See post # 33!!!

58. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Of course Apple is part of this. When a company like GT gets a contract like this, two things usually happen. They start a budget with the finances from this contract figured in, and they have to start determining what jobs if any they can take along with this job. So when Apple pulled out of the contract, the money they had budgeted for goes away and the other contracts they could've had have most likely found a new partner to do business with. I'm not saying it was wrong for Apple to go another way. No one would expect them to wait around for them to get things ironed out. They have products that are expected to materialize by a certain date. But they could also keep GT working on the process to see if it's viable to do or not. If every company quit at the first sign of trouble, no products would ever make it to market. As such, time and resources necessary to make sapphire glass viable need to be funded if they're ever going to resolve the situation. I'm not saying it was wrong of Apple to move to another solution, but it did contribute to GT having to file chapter 11, which is what the OP asked about. If Apple would've continued to finance their r&d, they could've possibly remained solvent while they continued work on a solution. Again, I don't blame them for not using sapphire glass with that low a yield, but Apple's going another way had to be a reason for why this happened.

46. tedkord

Posts: 17131; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I'm not buying the low yields story. I believe it a the fact that at the sizes and thinness Apple wanted, they were too brittle.

59. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

And most likely that caused the low yield. The yield percentage is determined by if the finished product meets the customer's specs & standards for quality and strength. Keeping the same thickness but increasing the surface area will result in a weaker finished product. That is a fact with any material, glass, metal, wood, or plastic. Going to a larger surface area one would need to either increase the thickness or reinforce it somehow to keep the same strength.

69. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

It's not the buyer's job to worry about it. You pitch what it is you want, within certain parameters, and the supplier says whether they can meet that need. If they do, then they sell the product to the buyer. If they don't, they eat their broken promises. It's called business.

73. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

For something that is a known entity, sure. But in experimental processes? How can anyone say what they can do if no one knows anything definitive about it? And I have said time and time again, I don't blame Apple for pulling out. Do people on here need pictures to understand what I'm saying? But regardless of Apple's reasoning, them pulling funding is responsible for the bankruptcy.

77. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

This is GT's business. If they don't know if they can do the job, they should have been out of business long before this. You can't afford to guess when your existence is at stake.

78. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

You just don't get it do you? How can they know if it's something that hasn't really been done before? Because of the uncertainty, there is risk. Do you think anyone can estimate something that for the most part is completely new? Whenever we had a customer come to us with something that had never been done before, we always had the same answer, time and materials. If the customer wants something that cannot be estimated because it's never been done before, that's most certainly on them, or they can keep looking. That's any business that stays in business.

57. engineer-1701d unregistered

gt should sue apple for loss partner to supply then they change at last min and now your out of luck and a job. thanks apple is there anything apple does thats good for the people or the planet.

71. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

Your business acumen is so poor as to be laughable. I come to you and want a widget with x properties. I sign the contract to buy these widget, you sign the contract to provide them, and lawyers witness it all. Now, guess what happens if you deliver me a widget with x-3 properties? Do I just buy your inferior product to prop you up? No. The contract is null and void, and you get nada. If GT had a contract and failed to meet the terms, they get nada. If they had a contract and Apple just said "piss off," GT could sue them for breach of contract. Since they went the Chapter 11 route, who do you think is at fault here?

74. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

If you sign a contract for wireless service and after a time, the carrier can no longer provide said service, do you get back what you paid them? They'll be owed their operational costs while they were working on the project. No one works for free, but they also won't be getting all they would've had the project gone okay. I worked for a company that installs signalling gear, and we contracted for work. We submitted an estimate and if we were low bid, we got the job. Now if things weren't exactly how the customer wanted it they would get a discount, but we didn't eat 100% of the materials or labor.

76. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

their not giving them enough money

2. Antimio

Posts: 313; Member since: Nov 11, 2013

All that I can say is................................................​..................................................​..................................................​..................................................​..................................... LOL

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