GT Advanced Technologies Stories February 19, 2015

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A new report claims that Apple is in talks with Japan Display to help finance an LCD display factory in Ishikawa next year. The exact details of the agreement are still in flux, but Apple is said to be considering an investment of somewhere around 200 billion yen (or just under $1.7 billion).

The factory would churn out the same types of low-temperature polycrystalline silicon displays that are currently used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Japanese news sources also say the factory could eventually be repurposed to build OLED panels like those found in the Apple Watch—and possibly in future iPhones. The factory’s output wouldn’t be exclusive to Apple’s devices, however, as the deal currently allows JDI to sell its wares to competitors.

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GT Advanced Technologies Stories December 2, 2014

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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

GT Advanced Technologies Stories October 13, 2014

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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

GT Advanced Technologies Stories October 10, 2014

GT Advanced closed court hearing was to seek permission to close the sapphire plant

The motion GT Advanced filed earlier for a closed hearing was to seek court permission to close its sapphire manufacturing plant, reports Re/code.

Sapphire crystal maker GT Advanced Technologies, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week, has asked the court’s permission to “wind down” operations at its manufacturing plant, less than a year after announcing a high-profile deal to supply the material to Apple.

As we noted earlier, the reason for the company’s failure appears to be that it was unable to meet Apple’s requirements for sapphire displays for the iPhone 6, though it remains unclear whether this was a quality issue or an inability to supply the volumes needed.

The court will hear the company’s motion on 15th October.

KGI stated earlier this week that the bankruptcy of GT Advanced is unlikely to have any impact on the Apple Watch as there are other suppliers able to provide sapphire screens in the sizes needed, but it may be that Apple will rethink its plans to use sapphire for future iPhones.

Image credit: azcentral.com

GT Advanced Technologies Stories July 11, 2014

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Apple’s operations chief said today that the company paid out over $3 billion to small businesses that supplied Apple with parts for its products in 2013. That money was split up between around 7,000 different suppliers as part of the SupplierPay program started by the White House.

SupplierPay is an extension of a federal program called QuickPay that required the government to issue payments to small business partners within 15 days of billing in an attempt to promote economic growth. With SupplierPay, the program is extended (optionally) to private businesses like Apple.

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GT Advanced Technologies Stories March 24, 2014

Apple reportedly pushing to automate iPhone battery production, reducing reliance on labor

Digitimes is reporting that Apple is looking to transition iPhone battery production from labor-intensive processes to fully-automatic machine production lines in 2014.

Although the reliability of Digitimes’ reporting is often poor, in this case the trustworthiness of the report is much more likely to be solid. Unlike some of their previous stories in recent memory, automating battery production is a direct matter of the supply chain — which is Digitimes’ area of expertise.

GT Advanced Technologies Stories March 14, 2014

Digitimes likely way off the mark with sapphire production estimates

A report by Digitimes is circulating today which says that Apple partner GT Advanced Technologies can only supply around 9-16% of sapphire supply for Apple’s next generation iPhone due for later in the year. The implication being that Apple would have to rely on external suppliers to make up the difference.

However, this estimate is based off GT’s apparent forecast of between $188 and $348 million from sapphire sales. As $GTAT investor and analyst Matt Margolis notes on his blog, the company has never broken down their revenue figures for sapphire so it’s unclear where Digitimes has sourced this number from.

GT Advanced Technologies 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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GT Advanced Technologies 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

GT Advanced Technologies Stories January 29, 2014

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In November of last year, Apple announced that it would be opening up a new manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona. Since that time, little information has come out about the plant except that it would be utilized to manufacture sapphire crystal for future Apple devices. The plant will be operated by Apple in tandem with GT Advanced Technologies. Earlier this year, we learned via (now removed) Apple job listings that the plant would involve components for future iPhone and iPod product lines.

Now, we have tracked down documents (with the help of analyst Matt Margolis) showing correspondence between U.S. Foreign Trade Zone officials and Apple’s Deputy Director of Global Trade Compliance. The documents were made public today by the Foreign Trade Zones Board. The papers indicate the materials Apple will utilize to manufacture sapphire, share details about Apple’s “aggressive” plan to take the facility live, and provide a description of how the sapphire will be used in future Apple products…

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GT Advanced Technologies Stories November 12, 2013

Sapphire iPhone screens just might be cost-effective sooner rather than later

TechCrunch has an interesting piece in which it suggests that the sapphire crystal Apple currently uses in the Touch ID home button on the iPhone 5s might prove a cost-effective option for iPhone screens sooner than we thought.

Sapphire is very, very tough. Short of scraping it with your diamond ring, you’re unlikely to scratch it. But it’s also very, very expensive. A sapphire outer layer on an iPhone would likely cost ten times as much as the Gorilla Glass Apple uses at present.

But Apple recently struck a deal with sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies to boost production by 2000 percent, and GTAT just happens to have acquired a solar panel company that developed a new technique for slicing hard materials very thinly using an ion particle accelerator.

If the same technique can be applied to sapphire, and if it could be combined with a sapphire laminating system already patented by Apple, the cost could plummet.

Apple could drive the costs of sapphire sheets down incredibly low in comparison to the traditional method. It will be able to create many of these super thin sapphire sheets from the same amount of raw material it would take to make one full piece of sapphire cover glass. It could then laminate the assembly together in the way that it currently does iPhones […]

This, in turn, could mean sapphire cover sheets that are harder and tougher than standard glass materials on your iPhone years sooner than most analysts have predicted.

Those are two big IFs, so we’re not holding our breath, but it’s certainly an intriguing possibility.

GT Advanced Technologies 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.

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