Apple is finishing up work on the Apple Watch’s software, and sources familiar with the product’s development say that the device is currently on track to ship in the United States by the end of March. Apple previously said that the wearable product will ship in “early 2015,” while Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts got a bit more specific by telling employees that the launch will occur in the “spring,” after the Chinese New Year…
As Apple and would-be sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies come closer to a settlement following the latter’s recent bankruptcy announcement, GT’s creditors will get to take a look under the wraps of the secretive Cupertino tech giant.
As noted earlier today by the Wall Street Journal, Apple will provide GT’s creditors with documents regarding the companies’ arrangement in response to inquiries attempting to determine whether the proposed settlement is fair, or whether Apple is trying to take advantage of the situation.
The GTAT mess may have forced Apple to abandon its presumed plans to replace iPhone Gorilla Glass screens with sapphire, but next year’s iPhone displays could still prove up to twice as shatter-resistant, says glass-maker Corning.
Corning said that studying hundreds of broken phone screens had revealed the unsurprising fact that shattered screens most commonly occurred in a one-meter drop onto a rough surface like concrete or asphalt. Drop tests in these conditions found that Gorilla Glass 4 survived up to 80% of such impacts – twice the record of the Gorilla Glass 3 used in current iPhones.
While there was much scientific testing behind the scenes, the videos the company used to illustrate the improved strength were rather less scientific in nature …
The Wall Street Journal has revealed key details of the failed deal between Apple and sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies that show why the agreement collapsed and how GT managed to run itself into bankruptcy while trying to meet Apple’s standards.
A previous report from the Journal revealed that GTAT had been unable to provide the iPhone 6 displays it had promised Apple, but now we have even more information on why that demand was so hard to meet.
While lawyers for bankrupt sapphire supplier GT Advanced confirmed previously that it had reached an agreement to repay Apple approximately $439 million, many details regarding what exactly went wrong in the partnership had not been disclosed publicly. Today we get what might be the clearest explanation yet of what happened between the two companies leading up to GTAT filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. In a declaration filed by COO of GT Advanced Daniel Squiller with the courts yesterday (via Fortune), the company outlines previously sealed info regarding its deal with Apple and terms of the deal that lead to GT’s bankruptcy filing.
When GTAT initially entered into negotiations to sell sapphire furnaces to Apple, it had no sense that, having borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the components of more than 2,036 sapphire furnaces, it would end up being unable to meet its cost and production targets for reasons that it believes were beyond its control as well as unforeseen difficulties in scaling its technology to 262kg boules to meet evolving product specifications.
While noting that the deal was “an ambitious transaction for the production of sapphire in quantities, size and quality never before achieved,” the document reveals a number of strict terms Apple imposed in the deal that the company describes as limiting its ability to achieve Apple’s requirements for sapphire production. Here’s a few of the more interesting bits: Read more
Following news this week that Apple had reached at a settlement with bankrupt sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced, today the company has responded to the situation in a comment to Recode. While GT previously said it would wind down sapphire production operations at its Mesa, Arizona plant and sell furnaces to repay the $439M owed to Apple, today Apple hinted it might have its own plans for the facility. Read more
Apple’s bankrupt former sapphire supplier is seeking to shut down its Mesa, Arizona plant and has informed 727 employees that they will be laid off between today and December 15th, according to AZ Central. The breakdown of the jobs being cut includes:
…524 production workers, 108 technical positions, 70 management jobs and 25 administrative jobs, according to the notice signed by Linda Luman, vice president of human resources for GT.
Not much is known about Apple’s deals with its suppliers, but court filings by former sapphire supplier GT Advanced reveal that the contract included a $50M penalty for any leak of Apple product information, reports the Financial Times.
While the amount of the penalty clause may vary according to the size of the supplier, it seems likely that a substantial leak penalty is a standard condition of supplying product components to Apple – though the number of leaks over the iPhone 6 suggests that such penalties offer limited protection.
Contracts between Apple and its suppliers will undoubtedly be subject to strict non-disclosure agreements, but lawyers for GT Advanced are asking the court to allow details to be made public … Read more
The Wall Street Journal has published new information about the breakdown of a deal between Apple and GT Advanced Technologies Inc. that led the latter to file for bankruptcy earlier this week. As was previously noted, Apple withheld a $139 million payment from the sapphire supplier, though the exact reasoning was unclear.
In a research note released yesterday, KGI confirmed that GTAT was Apple’s first choice for these displays because the company had created a process that provided superior drop test results. Now the Journal reports that the payment was withheld after GT Advanced failed to meet Apple’s requirements for the iPhone 6 display.
Apple has now officially commented on the startling announcement that sapphire supplier GTAT will file for bankruptcy. Like most observers, Apple was “surprised” by the move. Apple told the Wall Street Journal:
In its first comments since GT’s Chapter 11 filing Monday, Apple said, “We are focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT’s surprising decision and we will continue to work with state and local officials as we consider our next steps.”
Wall Street Journal sources indicate that GTAT was forced into financial distress because Apple withheld the final tranche payment of its contract, totally $139 million. Apparently, the sapphire supplier did not meet the agreed terms so Apple exerted its contractual right to withdraw. From the statement, it seems that Apple did not expect the consequential ramification of bankruptcy, however.
KGI has published a new report clarifying that the recent announcement that Apple’s sapphire supplier had filed for bankruptcy will likely have no impact on the production of the comapny’s sapphire display-equipped wearable. According to KGI, GT was mainly contracted to create the sapphire crystal displays for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The reason Apple partnered with GT Advanced on the iPhone displays was related to the size of the screens. Because GT was the best equipped to manufacture a display the size of the new iPhone models. However, because the Apple Watch uses a smaller display, other companies are able to produce the covers as easily as GT. This is also why the Touch ID sensor and iPhone cameras, which both use a sapphire lens, will also be unaffected.
The Wall Street Journal has cast some more light on recent reports that Apple’s sapphire supplier had declared bankruptcy earlier this week. According to the Journal’s report, Apple withheld a payment of $139 million from GT Advanced, though currently there’s no indication of why this decision was made.
In another interesting revelation, the Journal also discovered that the CEO of GT Advanced, Thomas Gutierrez, unloaded all of his stock in the company in a sale just one day before the iPhone 6 was unveiled. The device was widely expected to use sapphire supplied by GT for its displays. GT Advanced had enjoyed a rising stock price that had nearly doubled since initial rumors of a collaboration on the iPhone 6 started swirling.