Ever seen cracked sapphire? Check out the photos of the broken glass Apple received from GT


See those strange and beautiful crystals above? Sadly, this is not a collection of pretty mineral rocks. These are the photos of defective sapphire samples served to Cupertino by GT Advanced Technologies, the supplier that built a sapphire factory with Apple, then filed for bankruptcy while trapping itself in a "he said, she said" argument with its partner's head honchos. Obviously, none of this cracked, coarse glass could have gone inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

But how did things get so bad? While shopping for sapphire suppliers - most of them unwilling to participate because they couldn't profit from making sapphire at the price Apple wanted - the iPhone maker received an offer from GT. The company pitched a furnace that could "bake" a 578-pound sapphire cylinder (boule) - twice as large as the world's biggest sapphire cylinders right now. This would have solved the material's low yield problem, while simultaneously reducing costs. 

Understandably, Apple was thrilled, and GT had a solid track record, so Cupertino attempted to buy 2600 furnaces from GT and start a sapphire factory. However, the Apple execs decided that paying GT a 40% cut per furnace was a bit steep, so instead, it directly tasked GT with making the tough glass. The arrangement saw Apple lending GT $578 million for building 2036 furnaces and running a factory in Mesa, Arizona. For another $500 million, Apple would buy and furnish the workshop, and it would lease it to GT for $100 a year. Those are some twitchy economics, but nevertheless, an agreement was signed on October 31, 2013. And this happened just days after the first 578-pound sapphire cylinder came out of the oven - cracked and unusable.
In a strive to improve the production quality, and with Apple's trust, GT quickly hired an additional 700 staffers, which only led to mismanagement and chaos. Amidst the lack of an attendance policy and the establishment of unlimited overtime, hundreds of workers ended up having nothing to do, but sweep the floors and act busy to get paid. There weren't enough furnaces to operate, and in the words of one employee, "money was flying out of the door". However, the worst problem, and the most crucial too, was that the making of a single sapphire boule took as much as 30 days and cost $20,000. On top of that, more than half of the production was deemed unusable. That's a lot to write off! 

In addition, GT (allegedly) lost three months of work time to power outages and facility building delays. In other words, a grand fiasco took form. Eventually, GT and Apple decided on making smaller cylinders, which almost got the production problems sorted out. However, a manager mistakenly sent 500 of the 14-inch thick bricks of material used to make iPhone screens to recycling, instead of shipping. They were discovered later, and no money was lost, but the work was protracted. By that time, it was clear that sapphire had to be scrapped altogether if the iPhone 6 and his compatriot were to be announced in September.

source: WSJ

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35 Comments

1. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

What's going on with the Kyocera's sapphire glass?

3. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Lower demand = lower supply needs = small-time success.

7. maherk

Posts: 6960; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Exactly.

17. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

It's a good proof of concept, though. Yes, sapphire glass can be used successfully in a phone. But like most technologies, it needs to start small and work its way up. I don't know who at Apple decided to use untried technology on the world's most popular single phone. That's not the Apple way.

20. gunnor

Posts: 25; Member since: Oct 22, 2014

one word GREED

24. androtaku

Posts: 246; Member since: Dec 12, 2013

don't ask for a raise in your wages then

29. 21babydoll12 unregistered

It would work. If the mold was smaller less oven time would be neede but at a higher cost. The article points out that other makers didn't even want to try it cause they new it would not profit. Apple got fooled amd GT was greedy. Apple should have listen to other larger manufacturer.

31. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

But it's up to the buyer to verify that your supplier really can produce the at the quality and price quoted. GT overpromised and underdelivered, but Apple believed them. If a supplier quote sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I don't think Apple did their due diligence before investing.

34. anusser

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 21, 2014

Who says they couldn't deliver at the start? They had the tools, or at least bought the tools right away. They had a fighting chance. It's not like they went to a farmer to buy sapphire. Buyer's purchase without certainty all the time. That why people say doing business is a risk and the fact that GT has knowledge and tools says that Apple made a calculated risk.

2. Salazzi

Posts: 537; Member since: Feb 17, 2014

What GT did was purely criminal. They don't deserve to file for bankruptcy and should pay back every dime.

4. SellPhones82

Posts: 569; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

Yeah, but Apple also sets themselves up for this when they expect things for less that what they really cost. Funny that they don't do that with the devices they sell, yet expect supplies to loss money in order to do business with them. "While shopping for sapphire suppliers - most of them unwilling to participate because they couldn't profit from making sapphire at a price that satisfied both sides - Apple received an offer from GT." You get what you pay for! The cheapest bid is never the best option and this is proof of it.

5. Salazzi

Posts: 537; Member since: Feb 17, 2014

don't be moronic. That's what happens all the time. It's called negotiations. Both companies want to reach a certain price and profit. If it doesn't line up, then you look elsewhere. The fact is that GT gave Apple certain guarantees which they weren't able to meet. It's not like when your consumer goes and buys a cheap product at the store, because from the start, a company is guaranteed a certain level of standard and quality that they will provide the other company with, while shopping in a store as a consumer, outside of a warranty, there are no guarantees given to you. Thus, for a consumer, your statement would be correct. But between companies, it's not applicable. So when a company breeches guarantees it's given, it faces repercussions.. repercussions that GT is currently trying to evade.

11. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

And you're calling him a moron? The other companies knew it would be impossible to meet the demand APple needed t the cost they offered. Its that simple. Sure GT is at some fault caliming they could. All Apple had to do was research and see it wasn't possible. Once I learned of the process being used I knew it wasn't possible because I saw this documentary on cable where companies invested money tin making artificial gems the same way and it has failed. Apple is just as much at fault for spednign money on something they had no idea what they were buying. You morons always want to put the fault on one side. Appel was equally as stupid to have expected to meet thei demand at such a cheap costs. If no other company took on to tit, why should this one be believable. You are the moron because even when Apple also has fault you want to relieve them of it. You are a loyal fan, aren't you? https://www.google.com/#q=artificial+diamond+production&tbm=vid Watch the BBC videos and learn something about the process. Apple could have watch these videos and learned a lot. At least they could have learned what questions to ask. The problem is Apple has so much money, they were willing to take a gamble they didn't need too and it failed and thy lost their money. To bad so sad, lesson learned.

22. ga4001

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

Man, if only Jony Ives and Tim Cook hadn't cancelled their BBC online subscriptions!!! There is no innovation without risk. The company had a good track record and Apple apparently didn't go bankrupt on this. They took a risk that didn't pay off. The iPhone 6 is still selling gangbusters, which is reflected in the steady growth of Apple stock since its release. Get over yourself. If you could make billions by watching TV, you should go out and do it instead of posting about it here.

26. androtaku

Posts: 246; Member since: Dec 12, 2013

if its impossible to meet and no company came out an offer,apple would go other way of sourcing the glass or scrap the whole idea altogether,nothing wrong with that is not one's fault of demanding too much(at most everybody just ignore the demand),but its one fault to give empthy promises

14. SellPhones82

Posts: 569; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

How did it work out for Apple with the cheaper TLC memory used in the 128GB 6 and 6+? It's cheaper, as well as slower, and helps profit margins, but it has problems, right? I'll say it again, going the cheaper route to have a nicer profit margin can and will come back to bit you. Cheaper always comes with lower standards and quality.

6. maherk

Posts: 6960; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Don't be a blind hater and blame Apple for this. It is purely GT's fault, you know you can't supply the millions of iPhones Apple produce, then don't go into negotiating them at the 1st place.

9. SellPhones82

Posts: 569; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

Why was GT the only company willing to participate? If a deal sounds too good to be true, it's because it probably is. Again, you see this all day long when someone accepts the lowest bid from a relatively new company. GT later says the contract they signed with Apple was too "oppressive and burdensome". All the other companies declined the deals for this exact reason. GT is obviously a poorly ran company, yet that didn't stop Apple from attempting to doing business with them. You can read that prior to the deal many out there had a bad feeling about their CEO. Wonder if Apple will be more willing to give a little more next time they negotiate. They, like Wal-Mart, have been known to strong-arm companies into taking bad deals just so they can do business with them. The fact is no one could supply for the millions of iPhone's needed at the price Apple wanted to pay. http://www.ibtimes.com/sapphire-glass-how-did-apple-get-it-so-wrong-gt-advanced-technologies-1703108 http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/10/10/gt-advanced-says-oppressive-and-burdensome-sapphire-contracts-with-apple-led-to-bankruptcy

27. androtaku

Posts: 246; Member since: Dec 12, 2013

terms and conditions was being informed upfront by apple,if you can't meet,don't put down the signature and GTFO moronic blind hater

35. anusser

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 21, 2014

Similar reason why Samsung was the only company making Apple's iPhone processors (at the start). Just because other processor companies couldn't or wouldn't make it, and only Samsung would, doesn't mean the deal was too good or price was too low.

12. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

How about you don't be a blind Apple lover.

15. maherk

Posts: 6960; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Me? Apple Lover? Lmao you must be newbie on this site kiddo.

8. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The iPhone 6 and 6+ don't have a Gorilla Glass cover over the display. It has an ION strengthen glass and I am not sure who its from. But I don't think its Cornung. APple is trying not to use Corning because Samsung has a stake/ownership with Corning Glass. Now having said that, Sapphire is touch, but unlike Corning's offerings, it is more rigid and thus will shatter easily. You guys needs to understand how glass works. This material is scarce. Unlke what you have been told, diamonds are not scarce, they are sold as if they are to increase demand thus increasing price. As long as there are volcanos there can always be diamonds. Sapphire is very hard to find. In fact ti is so hard that most jewelry companies don't use real sapphire, they use home made stuff that is cheap, but looks similar. If Apple was to try to make a phone screen with this, the iPhone would have been in even more short supply. As you see it is hard to make this stuff in production. These guys are trying to use a technology used to make other gems stones like Artificial Diamonds. They look and act similar to the real thing, but because they are made in a shop and not dug out the ground it is cheaper. The problem is this technology isn't fool-proof. Every company that has tried this for making GEMS have had very low yield rates. The problem is, there is no one proven method that gets a perfect product in the end each time. This stuff they are making is not real sapphire. It is a blend of trying to use a real sapphire seed that they try to build more layers on top using this process. It simply isn't fool-proof. It fails more times than it works. With the amount of phones Apple sells, there is no way they could have produced enough yield to keep up which means there would have been delays. LOTS OF DELAYS. That and the fact, the material is only strong enough to deal with what Gorilla Glass is already good at and is cheaper to produce. Glass will break. PERIOD. If you drop a phone with sapphire glass, it will likely break just as easy as any other glass. Breakage in glass is done in 2 ways, vibration or chemical reaction. Since Apple makes their phone with metal, there is nothing to absorb the shock of a fall, thus the vibration moves over the glass causing it to crack. Because the glass is tempered, a crack releases a gas which makes it shatter as it releases in an explosive manner. The only real solution is to use a clear plastic. But the problem is clarity. You cant make plastic clear enough to replace glass completely.

21. ga4001

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

Are you parodying bad Internet posters? I can't tell if this is a joke or not.

23. ga4001

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

"You cant make plastic clear enough to replace glass completely." Eyeglasses have been using plastics and polycarbonates for years, and are exceptionally clear. Also "Sapphire glass" isn't glass, while your Gorilla Glass absolutely is. You're out of your depth; head back to the kiddie pool before you drown yourself.

32. mixedfish

Posts: 1561; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

" diamonds are not scarce, they are sold as if they are to increase demand thus increasing price. As long as there are volcanos there can always be diamonds." LOL, and all of them are 'precious' enough to be on a wedding ring? No.

10. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

If anyone is interested, there is a documentary called Synthetic Diamonds. In this film which I saw on cable and can be seen on YouTube in like 3 videos, it explains where these companies invested money into a process where they could make synthetic diamonds as an answer to the greed of the DaBeers company who has nearly a 100% stake in diamond mining and proclaims diamonds are rare, but they aren't. Because of this lie, they have manage to force diamond costs to be very high when it is nothing but a rock with a fancy cut. Sure its pretty when done right by an experience cutter, but they don't cost what they charge. These companies spent money engineering a way to make a synthetic equal and some have met some success, but the yield are so small, that trying to get a full productions nearly impossible. In fact one guy took his own money and bought 2000 of these machines and they don't work. The yield is not even 50%. If Apple had seen this video, they could have asked more question and got better answers. The fact is the process has no guarantees. Apple was so greedy and trying to make this work, they didn't look at all the downsides. This isn't even real Sapphire. The process takes a sapphire seed and other chemicals and they try to grown layers on top using a machine that uses heat and other chemicals to try to mak the seed grown more layers artificially in a shirt time compared to how nature actually does it. It has failed time and time again to a point where some investors went broke. The problem with Apple is they have so much money, but they don't spend the money to actually get answers. They just rush in. I could have save them millions if they had asked me. They could have paid me $1M bucks and I could have save them this 500M+. And people hold their supreme allegiance to this greedy corporation. See how stupid they are. Just like the sheep who follow them. Just one following the other to their doom! You can find the videos at this link if you are interested - https://www.google.com/#q=artificial+diamond+production&tbm=vid It was a BBC documentary. It has been on TV a numerous amount of times.

18. Af1rPA

Posts: 712; Member since: Jun 12, 2014

Here in Australia there is a jewelry store that specializes in man made diamonds. I dont think they have ovens big enough to bake what Apple were asking from GT. TBH I think Apple was asking a bit too much really. Do a google search for Secrets Shhh and check out the diamonds.

33. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

No one cares to read long comments. Make them smaller and to the point or maybe you should consider getting a life.

13. tedkord

Posts: 17414; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Luis, a correction for your article. According to the source article at WSJ, the sapphire that was mistakenly sent to recycling was discovered and retrieved in time, and didn't wind up losing them any money. It was written that it would have cost them hundreds of thousands if it weren't discovered. And in the first paragraph, its "could have gone," not" could have went." I know, grammar Nazi. I only mentioned it because I was already posting a correction anyway, so I just added it.

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