Earlier this week, Apple announced a deal with GT Advanced Technologies to increase production of sapphire for use it’s in products. This production will take place in Apple’s new Arizona facility. Via AllThingsD, as part of an earnings call on Monday, GT shed some light on just how big this deal is for both companies.
As Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White noted today, GT’s sapphire business accounted for 11 percent of its year-to-date sales — about $28.9 million in revenue. But, in forecasting 2014 revenue, the company said it expects to make $600 million to $800 million, with 80 percent of those sales attributable to its sapphire business.
This means that GT’s sapphire business will generate between $480 – $640 million of the company’s 2014 revenue, an increase of almost twenty-times compared to 2013. An increase this large implies Apple has a much bigger vision for sapphire than what it uses it for today.
Currently, Apple uses sapphire as the cover glass for the iPhone’s camera lens as well as part of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. However, an increase this large suggests that Apple will expand its use of sapphire further in the future.
Rumours are abound that Apple will replace the Corning Gorilla Glass used in iOS devices with sapphire instead, despite Corning claiming that its material is superior and sapphire is “not a major threat” to its business.
Of course, Apple could also be planning to employ sapphire in one of those new product categories Cook is so interested in, such as the ever-rumoured iWatch (with the rumour mill currently forecasting a late 2014 debut). Sapphire has high levels of durability and scratch-resistance — a perfect fit for a device meant to be worn.