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How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off 195

alphadogg writes: "Apple is making a billion dollar bet on sapphire as a strategic material for mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and perhaps an iWatch. Exactly what the company plans to do with the scratch-resistant crystal – and when – is still the subject of debate. Apple is creating its own supply chain devoted to producing and finishing synthetic sapphire crystal in unprecedented quantities. The new Mesa, Arizona plant, in a partnership with sapphire furnace maker GT Advanced Technologies, will make Apple one of the world's largest sapphire producers when it reaches full capacity, probably in late 2014. By doing so, Apple is assured of a very large amount of sapphire and insulates itself from the ups and downs of sapphire material pricing in the global market."
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How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off

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  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @09:38PM (#46819763)

    You can go from jack squat to anything with a billion dollars.
    Especially when the rest of the industry isn't all that large.

  • Re:Well. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:09PM (#46819897) Journal

    Why do expensive watches have sapphire crystals? Well, sapphire has advantages, but mostly because those watches are jewelry that happen to tell time.

    Why will iPhones have sapphire screens? Because they are jewelry that happen to make phone calls. If you see Apple products as fashion accessories first, then sapphire screens are a brilliant idea.

  • Re:Well. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @10:57PM (#46820079)

    Sapphire is almost certainly more scratch resistant, because it's harder. Gorilla glass may well be less likely to break, since it's not as hard. Scratch and break resistance are usually difficult to get together. You're right, the real question is, in the real world, which is the more important property? Are scratches or breaks more common? Can other design features mitigate scratches or breaks more effectively?

    I would think some rubber buffer around the glass could be used to add a lot of break resistance. Other than putting a film over the screen, scratches are pretty hard to prevent without making the surface itself more resistant.

  • Re:Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:03PM (#46820111)

    Really? You got modded up for that?

    Expensive watches have sapphire faces because sapphire is one of the hardest materials that can be made into a thin, transparent sheet for a reasonable price. That makes it very scratch resistant. It's not bling, it's very practical.

  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:32AM (#46820901)

    It seems like most of the IPhones I see have broken screens, but other phones only rarely.

    I'll counter your anecdote with one of my own. I've seen dozens of iPhones in the hands of friends and co-workers. Only one of them ever had broken glass (the back panel) and that was in the hands of one of the biggest drunks I've ever known.

    You simply only notice what you want to notice.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell