Arizona Stories March 27, 2015

tim-cook-apple-watch

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Twitter today shared Apple’s opposition to a controversial new law in Indiana while calling on the governor of Arkansas to veto legislation before it becomes law. Both laws relate to religious freedom protection but have been criticized as enabling LGBT discrimination. expand full story

Arizona Stories February 2, 2015

gtat

Following the October surprise bankruptcy filed by GT Advanced Technologies—a key sapphire supplier for the iPhone—Apple today announced plans to invest $2 billion over the next 30 years in the failed plant. The Mesa, Arizona-located plant will become the central command center for its various data centers around the globe.

“We’re proud to continue investing in the U.S. with a new data center in Arizona, which will serve as a command center for our global networks,” Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, wrote in an e-mailed statement on Monday. “This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made.”

Shortly after the bankruptcy announcement from GT Advanced Technologies, Apple described the decision as surprising while adding that the company would focus on job preservation. expand full story

Arizona Stories January 29, 2015

Uber is giving away Mophie Power Reserve battery packs in Phoenix this weekend ahead of the Super Bowl

Uber, the app-based transportation service which lets you request a ride from your iPhone, is running a pretty interesting promotion in Phoenix, Arizona starting today through Saturday for Super Bowl XLIX . Between 10 am and 6 pm each day, Uber will offer to deliver a free Mophie Power Reserve ($49.95 1350mAh battery charger) to its users through the app. The free Mophie option is listed alongside car types in the Uber app.

Since requesting Uber to deliver a mobile charger to you then having them wait for you to charge your phone would take potentially hours, Uber and Mophie are giving the Power Reserves away to keep.

In the past, Uber has ran similar short run promotions with ice cream and other offers. In DC, for example, Uber is currently promoting a puppy adoption drive.

As for the Mophie giveaway promotion, Uber says it expects demand to be high, obviously, so you’ll have to test your luck with picking up a free Power Reserve if you’re in the area. Uber says its cars are equipped with Mophies, too, if you’re taking a ride and just need a quick charge.

Arizona Stories December 2, 2014

gtat

Following a report late last month that creditors of bankrupt sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies won a court order to get a look at sensitive Apple documents, now GT’s creditors are requesting a deposition of Apple executive Jeff Williams. The Wall Street Journal reports: expand full story

Arizona Stories October 29, 2014

Mesa-Arizona

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: expand full story

Arizona Stories October 23, 2014

Mesa-Arizona

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. expand full story

Arizona Stories October 13, 2014

gtat-2

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 …  expand full story

Arizona Stories August 21, 2014

Mesa-Arizona

Apple and State of Arizona filings have come to light today that indicate Apple is rapidly expanding its Mesa, Arizona operations and GT-Advanced sapphire crystal production. PTT Research Senior Analyst and GTAT investor Matt Margolis shared the new documents from his latest research with 9to5Mac. The first interesting piece of the filings is a letter from Apple’s Director of Global Trade Compliance James J. Patton from early July to the U.S Department of Commerce:

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Arizona Stories August 14, 2014

iPhone-6-sapphire-cover-glass

<a href="http://9to5mac.com/2014/07/07/video-reportedly-shows-iphone-6s-flexible-sapphire-screen-cover/" target="_blank">Purported iPhone 6 sapphire cover glass</a>

A new report filed by The Wall Street Journal today is the latest to claim that Apple’s next generation of iPhones will sport sapphire displays. In addition to commentary from analysts over how the more expensive material could impact costs for Apple, the WSJ report includes the following tidbit:

Apple is considering using sapphire screens in more-expensive models of the two new, larger iPhones it plans to debut this fall, if it can get enough of the material, people familiar with the matter say.

Two things are notable in mention above. First, the WSJ mentions “two new, larger iPhones” as reports continue to describe both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch model to be introduced with the latter size possibly available after the former. Next, the WSJ describes sapphire displays as possibly only being available on “more-expensive models” of the new iPhones.

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Arizona Stories July 30, 2014

After showing more journalists around its solar-powered North Carolina data center (where it is building a third solar farm), Apple says that its new focus for renewable energy is its supply chain. The Guardian reports that the sapphire factory in Arizona forms part of this initiative.

The company is also moving to install solar and geothermal power at a plant in Mesa, Arizona that has been manufacturing sapphire glass. Apple would not directly comment on the Arizona factory but the state’s governor, Jan Brewer, has publicly praised the company’s decision to relocate there and to use solar and geothermal in manufacturing.

Apple’s VP of environmental initiatives Lisa Jackson said that the company is conscious that its supply chain cannot claim the same green credentials as Apple itself …  expand full story

Arizona Stories July 7, 2014

With a long list of leaks in recent months showing mock ups of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones expected for release this fall, today we get a look at what is reportedly our first at the flexibility of the iPhone 6’s new sapphire cover glass. There’s not much information surrounding this leak or confirmation that what we’re looking at is the real deal, but the sapphire material is indeed something Apple has ramped up production of in recent months at its new Arizona plantexpand full story

Arizona Stories March 5, 2014

Gorilla Glass maker Corning (predictably) slams sapphire, saying weaker and dimmer

In the tech equivalent of a turkey dissing Thanksgiving dinners, Corning SVP Tony Tripeny has criticized sapphire as a material for protecting phone screens, coming up with a whole list of claimed drawbacks, reports CNET.

We see a lot of disadvantages of Sapphire versus Gorilla Glass. It’s about 10 times more expensive. It’s about 1.6 times heavier. It’s environmentally unfriendly. It takes about 100 times more energy to generate a Sapphire crystal than it does glass. It transmits less light which…means either dimmer devices or shorter battery life. It continues to break. I think while it’s a scratch resistant product it still breaks and our testing says that Gorilla Glass [can take] about 2.5 times more pressure that it can take.

Sapphire is far more resistant to scratches than Gorilla Glass, but Corning argue that it is more likely to be smashed.

Apple is expected to switch to a sapphire coating for the iPhone 6, manufacturing the material at the plant it jointly operates with GTAT in Arizona. While the material is indeed currently much more expensive than glass, it has been suggested that the costs could be substantially reduced with new production techniques.

Arizona Stories February 25, 2014

Apple’s new sapphire crystal component producer GT-Advanced announced its Q4 2013 earnings results yesterday, and in addition to talking about the past quarter, the company shared some details about its future and its well-publicized partnership with Apple.

We previously indicated, based on research into publicly available shipping documents, that we expect Apple and GT-Advanced to be developing sapphire crystal displays for a future iPhone model. The companies are likely to be able to produce over 100 million displays this year…

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Apple joins growing call for Arizona to veto anti-gay religious discrimination bill

Update: Following Apple’s expression of opposition and much national attention, Governor Brewer has vetoed the bill.

[tweet https://twitter.com/GovBrewer/status/438838664928325633]

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Apple has confirmed an NBC report that the company has urged Arizona State Governer Jan Brewer to veto a highly controversial (to put it mildly) bill that would allow businesses to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Hueget confirmed Monday that the company had reached out to Brewer and urged a veto.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, Sen. John McCain and three State Senators who originally voted for the bill are also among those who have joined calls for the veto.

Apple’s sapphire plant, believed to be making screens for the iPhone 6, is located in Mesa, Arizona. The company last year applauded the Supreme Court ruling that banning same-sex marriage in California was unconstitutional.

Arizona Stories February 19, 2014

iphone-5s-hero-xl-201311

A report published in Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, via Mac Otakara, reiterates the flurry of previous reporting that Apple will release two new iPhones this year with larger displays, around 4.7 and 5.6 inches respectively. This has been reported countless times in the past by multiple sources. It also says that Apple is targeting a release in the third-quarter, again unsurprising at this point.

However, the report goes onto say that only the larger of these two phones will feature sapphire-glass. According to this sketchy report, the 4.7 inch model will continue to use Corning’s Gorilla Glass like the current iPhone 5s and 5c.

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Arizona Stories February 11, 2014

Apple-iPhone-6-concept

Apple is preparing to release not one, but two new versions of the iPhone in September, according to the South China Morning Post. Each version will ship with a larger display than the iPhone 5s, coming in at a whopping 4.7″ and 5.5″, respectively. The displays are said to have a pixel density of 441ppi, much higher than the current 326ppi found in the iPhone 5 and later.

The report also states that both displays will be made from sapphire crystal, which fits with recent reports that Apple is planning to have its latest sapphire plant in Mesa, AZ operational in February for a “critical” product component. The displays will also be flat, not curved, the Post says.

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Double debunk: bezel-free iPhones, sapphire iWatch only?

Two Apple rumors have popped up today originating from the KoreaHerald and Chinese media outlet MyDrivers (via Gforgames) that claim to share new details about upcoming next-generation iPhones. The first report from MyDrivers claims that industry sources from Taiwan say Apple won’t move to sapphire for the next-gen iPhone display. It cites cost and limited production capacity, but claims Apple is prototyping an “iPhone 6” with sapphire display anyway. The biggest problem with this report— apart from the site’s track record— is that Apple recently acquired enough equipment for its new Arizona sapphire plant to produce 100-200 million 5-inch iPhone displays a year. While the report adds that Apple will likely use sapphire for the rumored iWatch display, it’s certainly preparing its Arizona plant to produce much beyond just that product.

Next we have the KoreaHerald report claiming that both Samsung and Apple are working on bezel-less displays and that Apple is prototyping one that includes a fingerprint sensor:

Arizona Stories February 10, 2014

Mesa-Arizona

If you were wondering why Apple chose Mesa, Arizona, as the location of its latest manufacturing plant in the U.S., a story today from Bloomberg explains that Apple, not shy about going after tax breaks, has taken advantage of many perks put in place by the suburb’s mayor:

So last year, when Apple was searching for a place to house a factory that makes a stronger glass for its gadgets, Mesa pulled out the stops. The city, which was ravaged by the 2007 housing crash, offered tax breaks, built power lines, fast-tracked building permits and got the state to declare a vacant 1.3 million-square-foot facility that Apple was exploring a foreign trade zone. With unemployment high, such are the lengths that towns are willing to go to to lure the world’s most valuable company.“Any time you have a company like Apple come in and invest in your area, especially with this type of operation, it’s significant,” said Smith, who triumphed late last year when Apple spent $114 million to buy the factory. The mayor celebrated by placing bowls of green and red apples in City Hall.

Smith added that original preparations were done before the city even knew it was Apple, but later Apple requested additional perks before moving in and even got construction permits expedited. Among the other advantages of choosing Mesa for Apple was a $10 million building grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority and an agreement with the city’s power company to build solar and geothermal installations and a new power substation for the plant: expand full story

Arizona Stories February 6, 2014

Last year, Apple and GT Advanced struck a deal to open and operate a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona related to sapphire crystal components.

Earlier this year, we learned that Apple is “aggressively” pushing to make the facility operational by February 2014 and that the building would produce a “critical” and “new” sub-component for future Apple devices. Due to the vagueness and secrecy surrounding Apple and GT Advanced’s plans, there has been little to no confirmation regarding what exactly the partnership will yield for future Apple products.

But, thanks to new documents and information that we have uncovered with help of analyst Matt Margolis, we have a clearer picture of Apple’s plans…

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Arizona Stories January 25, 2014

Yesterday we posted some excerpts from an ABC interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives that officially aired on the network last night. In the interview, Cook is joined by Apple’s Apple Senior VP Craig Federighi and Apple software VP Bud Tribble to talk about the 30th anniversary of Mac, the new made-in-America Mac Pro, iWatch (iRing?), secrecy at Apple and the recent NSA surveillance controversies.

Cook on NSA surveillance programs:

Number one, we need to be significantly more transparent. We need to say what data is being given, how many people it affects, how many accounts are affected, we need to be clear. And we have a gag order on us right now so we can’t say those things… .Much of what has been said isn’t true. There is no backdoor. The government doesn’t have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that, and that just will not happen. We feel that strongly about it.

Cook didn’t say much that we didn’t already see in the excerpts, but you can check out the full uncut interview from ABC above.

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Arizona Stories January 14, 2014

Mesa-Arizona

Back in November, the State of Arizona announced that Apple had chosen the city of Mesa to create a new manufacturing facility and in the process 700 new permanent manufacturing jobs. Some had speculated it could be part of CEO Tim Cook’s plan to bring manufacturing of Macs back to the US (Cook previously stated some parts will come from Arizona), but a supplier later revealed it would be providing equipment for the production of sapphire material at Apple’s new plant. Apple never confirmed what the plant would actually be used for, but we’ve discovered through a new job listing that Apple will indeed use the facility for manufacturing iPhone and iPod components. expand full story

Arizona Stories November 7, 2013

Apple’s sapphire deal to increase manufacturer’s revenue from sapphire by approximately 20x current levels

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.

Arizona Stories November 4, 2013

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The State of Arizona today announced that Apple is planning to build a new manufacturing facility in the city of Mesa, Arizona. The facility will create 700 jobs for manufacturing, and an additional 1,300 jobs for the construction and management of the new facility, In total, Apple will be bringing at least 2,000 new jobs to the United States thanks to this new facility.

In addition to the manufacturing facility, Apple will be constructing a new solar power grid in the city to power the manufacturing operations, according to Arizona’s announcement:

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Arizona Stories June 20, 2012

Arizona’s iStores close up shop as another Apple reseller bites the dust

Liquidation sale

Apple Stores are an unmitigated success. Unfortunately, that is bad news for those who sold Apple products before the stores came along. Yet another Apple retailer is closing this month, as Arizona’s iStore Owner Steve Walker told patrons on its website.

Walker cites an unfair playing field provided by Apple:

“We had a lot of fun over the years working so closely with the Apple product and loyal Apple product users. Unfortunately, since the introduction of the Apple Corporate Stores in 2001, dealers have continually struggled with fair inventory allocation by Apple along with a horribly uneven playing field in relation to the independent’s ability to service our customers in the same way the Apple Stores are able to provide service. As an example, Apple will swap iPhones, iPads, iPods and oftentimes Macs that are not functioning properly, but do not provide the ability for Independent’s to offer the same level of service. These problems existed even though iStore has consistently met all metrics as measured by Apple to be a distinguished and high-performing Apple Specialist and AppleCare Premium Service Provider. For these reasons and others, I have made the tough choice to close our stores.

The note on the website is pasted below:

To Our Many Valued Customers and Friends,

We have enjoyed assisting you with all your Apple needs over the past 17 years here in Arizona. I feel blessed to have been able to provide for my family while being entangled in all the cool Apple products. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most talented Apple people around – those who have helped you with everything from your complex issues to your simple problems or helped you figure out exactly which Mac, iPod or iPad was right for you.

With the gradual opening of what is now 5 corporate Apple Stores here in the Phoenix area and corresponding changes at Apple with their reseller relations, Apple has made it nearly impossible to sustain profitability while providing great customer service. As many of you have experienced (most recently with the 3rd Gen iPad), Apple consistently withholds product from their independent dealers while providing abundantly to their own corporate Apple Stores. For this reason and many others that would take too long to enumerate and, quite frankly, you probably don’t care about, we have chosen to permanently close our stores.

As is the case with all businesses, we have made our fair share of mistakes. We could have done better at many things. If you were ever caught in the crossfire of those situations, I hope you were made whole by us (except the crazy ones like that guy that expected us to give him a refund for a product he purchased at our competitor’s store).

I thank you for your kindness, tolerance, patience, humanity, business and friendship over the years.

Sincerely,

Steve Walker

President

iStore

The question is: Should Apple have some compassion for retailers that have been with Apple for decades? Or is this just part of business?

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