Apple partner GT Advanced Technologies announced its financials for the second quarter of fiscal 2014 and noted that its sapphire producing facility is ready for volume production. The company announced a loss of $86 million as it winds down orders for other partners and reorganizes facilities to partner with Apple. Both Apple and GT Advanced had invested in a facility for production of sapphire glass in Mesa, Arizona.
"The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure as well as the installation of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production," GT Advanced said. "We remain confident about the long-term potential of the sapphire materials business for GT."
Though Apple has not commented on how sapphire will be used on future smartphones, the highly durable material has appeared on Apple's phones since the iPhone 5. On the iPhone 5, sapphire is used as a protective lens cover for the device's rear camera, and that tradition continues with the iPhone 5s. In addition, the 5s also employs sapphire on the home button to protect the Touch ID fingerprint sensor; Touch ID will gain more importance moving forward with iOS 8's extensions.
For its part, GT Advanced is optimistic that it could achieve its goals with Apple. When those goals are met, Apple will then issue a final payment to GT:
The fourth prepayment from Apple is contingent upon the achievement of certain operational targets by GT. GT expects to achieve these targets and receive the final $139 million prepayment by the end of October 2014.
Rumors suggest that Apple's highly anticipated iPhone 6 may see sapphire glass used for the display, though that information is still speculatory and unconfirmed. If true, sapphire would give Apple an advantage against Android rivals in that the material is highly durable. Current iPhone models use strengthened glass from Corning.
Another rumored product that could use sapphire glass would be Apple's oft-rumored iWatch.
Do you think that GT Advanced's latest announcement suggests that Apple is ready to begin massively using sapphire glass on its iPhone 6?