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Corning exec lets slip the gorillas of war, calls sapphire expensive, heavy, environmentally...

post #1 of 95
Thread Starter 
During a conference call on Tuesday, Corning Glass executive Tony Tripeny named the apparently numerous drawbacks to using sapphire crystal in a mobile device, something which Apple is widely expected to do with an upcoming iPhone.

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At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference (via Seeking Alpha), analyst James Fawcett warmed up with a round of general questions regarding the health of Corning's business, but the conversation quickly turned to Gorilla Glass and sapphire, reports CNET.

The two Corning executives in attendance, CFO James Flaws and SVP and Corporate Controller Tripeny, successfully dodged an initial question about the possible risks sapphire presents to Gorilla Glass and Corning's hold on the mobile device industry. A more direct follow-up from Fawcett hit the mark.

"So we mentioned Sapphire and obviously there is one large handset and device maker that people suspect maybe looking at Sapphire," Fawcett said, assumedly alluding to Apple. "And at least from a Corning perspective, [what are] the puts and takes of Sapphire versus glass?"

Tripeny fielded the question by offering a laundry list of negatives. Corning has not been overly talkative on the implications of sapphire, though the company has obviously been thinking hard on the subject, as evidenced by a page on its website titled "Corning Gorilla Glass vs. Sapphire."

"When we look at it, we see a lot of disadvantages of Sapphire versus Gorilla Glass," Tripeny said. "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."

Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass


While Tripeny conceded sapphire is a highly scratch resistant material, he pointed out that Corning tests have shown Gorilla Glass to be able to withstand 2.5 times more pressure. Overall, sapphire is an "industry and trend" not attractive in consumer devices, he said.

Apple seems to think otherwise. In November, the company announced a partnership with sapphire producer GT Advanced Technology worth $578 million. As part of the deal, a new facility built in Arizona will supply Apple with a large amount of sapphire for use in future products yet to be announced.

Currently, Apple uses sapphire as protective shielding for the iPhone 5s' rear camera lens and Touch ID home button. The company first dabbled with the material in the iPhone 5, which also employed a sapphire-covered rear-facing camera.

Touch ID


As Corning stands to lose a major source of revenue if Apple decides to switch away from Gorilla Glass in favor of its own sapphire-based solution, the company is understandably a detractor of the burgeoning tech.

Tripeny does raise some interesting points, however, not the least of which is the impact of using sapphire from a cost standpoint. Citing knowledge about crystal growing from the Dow Corning joint venture, the exec points to a three disadvantages to sapphire production.

Again, Tripeny compares the material to Gorilla Glass: forming sapphire takes approximately 4,000 times longer than Gorilla Glass and at a "significantly higher" melting temperature; machining the material is difficult and costly due to its innate hardness; and the costs rise "exponentially" when defects form during the growing process because they need to be cut out.

"If it was a business that was attractive to enter into, we certainly would be able to do that," Tripeny said.

Sapphire Laminate


While Apple's sapphire endgame remains unknown, the company has secured or filed for a number of patents relating to sapphire laminates and other more exotic mobile device components. In addition, properties describing manufacturing and processing techniques have also been revealed.

As for Corning, the firm is apparently not looking to enter the sapphire industry anytime soon, even if large OEMs like Apple and Samsung are turning to the material as a "deluxe" value-added feature.

Finally, when asked if there was anything else that may factor into the sapphire conversation, Tripeny said, "It has got a very sexy name. Sapphire."
post #2 of 95
Anybody who would like to dispose of their expensive, heavy, and environmentally unfriendly sapphires, please feel free to contact me for it's collection and disposal.

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post #3 of 95

post #4 of 95
Let's go back over the story of Apple and Corning one more time.

http://www.boardwalkcm.com/blog-profile.php?ID=22

Come on Corning, thanks to Apple you had a good run, don't be a sore loser.
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post #5 of 95
If your sapphire plant is solar powered, the amount of energy required isn't that much of an issue.
post #6 of 95

I believe people tend to take much better care of their iPhones than Samsung users take care of their devices. I see people with cracked Samsung screens all the time. I've only seen one cracked iPhone and that was due to a horse stepping on it. If people do accidently crack their iPhone screens, they must get them replaced pretty quickly because I just don't ever see them.

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post #7 of 95
Corning probably referring to current manufacturing method but various manufacturers in the US including Apple's newest partner GT Advanced are coming up with newer processes dealing with weight and manufacturing cost (which would include the use of energy).

From an article from Patently Apple titled "Apple may Shift to Sapphire Crystal Glass for Future iDevices":

"According to a new report by MIT Technology Review, there are a number of manufacturers in the US that are experimenting at making sapphire sheets thinner than a human hair which is much thinner than today's Gorilla Glass. That would in turn lighten the iPhone which Apple strives for continually while translating into savings in shipping costs. A little here a little there and it begins to make sense for Apple to start experimenting with this glass. Corning's competitors are beginning to talk about manufacturing sapphire glass for between $6 to $9 per smartphone cover versus $20 to $30 that it sells for today. So it's in Corning's interest to be able to offer Apple a sapphire product or an equivalent."

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2013/03/apple-may-shift-to-sapphire-crystal-glass-for-future-idevices.html
post #8 of 95
Heck were I building that laminate it would still have a GorillaGlass core.
post #9 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Let's go back over the story of Apple and Corning one more time.

http://www.boardwalkcm.com/blog-profile.php?ID=22

Come on Corning, thanks to Apple you had a good run, don't be a sore loser.

Exactly. I've no doubt that someone would've found the use for Gorilla Glass eventually but as it stands it was Apple/Steve Jobs. It is in Corning's business interest to downplay Sapphire but when one protests too much, it usually means that feathers are being ruffled (to be followed, no doubt, by gorilla glasses being thrown against the wall).
post #10 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

I believe people tend to take much better care of their iPhones than Samsung users take care of their devices. I see people with cracked Samsung screens all the time. I've only seen one cracked iPhone and that was due to a horse stepping on it. If people do accidently crack their iPhone screens, they must get them replaced pretty quickly because I just don't ever see them.

That may have a bit to do with income disparity as well.  iPhone users have a bit more income, so they probably get their phones fixed quickly as they can afford to do so.

post #11 of 95
Not surprising coming from a company who sees the competition ahead.

It's not just that the phone cover will be sapphire, there is a very good possibility it will also contain solar charging tech. Imagine that, a solar powered plant producing screens that power an iPhone by solar.
Corning sees this coming and are unsurprisingly, spooked. I would be too, in their shoes. If this turns out to be true, it would be a major game changer and a serious threat to Corning's profits.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2062083-gt-advanced-technologies-is-ready-to-electrify-the-mobile-world
Edited by muadibe - 3/4/14 at 9:12pm
post #12 of 95

I don't know why they are even concerned, after all Android has 80% of the market!

 

/s

 

/s

 

/s

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post #13 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

I believe people tend to take much better care of their iPhones than Samsung users take care of their devices. I see people with cracked Samsung screens all the time. I've only seen one cracked iPhone and that was due to a horse stepping on it. If people do accidently crack their iPhone screens, they must get them replaced pretty quickly because I just don't ever see them.

 

That's because those big, all in one Samsung screens are so much more expensive than iPhone screens to replace.

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post #14 of 95

Corning's Gorilla Glass was a forgotten piece of tech until Apple revived it and made Corning not only a boatload of money from Apple, but from all the other copyists that decided to incorporate it into their devices.  Corning will continue to make tons of money (although not as much) from all those other device makers.

Maybe Corning should thank Apple for making them relevant again, instead of coming across like some whiny b!tch?  :/

post #15 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post
 
That's because those big, all in one Samsung screens are so much more expensive than iPhone screens to replace.

I don't know. An iPhone is like a precious piece of jewelry so people treat them carefully. On the other hand if you break your Samsung screen where do you take it to be replaced? They don't really have a Genius Bar do they?

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post #16 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post
 

Corning's Gorilla Glass was a forgotten piece of tech until Apple revived it and made Corning not only a boatload of money from Apple, but from all the other copyists that decided to incorporate it into their devices.  Corning will continue to make tons of money (although not as much) from all those other device makers.

Maybe Corning should thank Apple for making them relevant again, instead of coming across like some whiny b!tch?  :/

 

Right, because smartphone glass is the leading profit center for Corning. Not.

 

In reality, a composite of both Gorilla and Sapphire is an optimal solution for Apple. Corning going after Sapphire is just stupid from a partnership situation, never mind useless fodder when they don't disclose the carbon footprint of their own assembly processes, across the board, comparing them to Sapphire Glass.

post #17 of 95

Love the headline!

 

"Shall in these confines with Tony's voice - cry havoc and let slip the gorillas of war"!

 

The fact that Corning is making these statements makes me think that iPhones will move to Sapphire either this year or the next. Some contract was not extended or some clause was raised and Corning is gagged from saying anything about the situation. Hence they are running down Sapphire.

post #18 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post
 
In reality, a composite of both Gorilla and Sapphire is an optimal solution for Apple. 

Except that Corning, Inc. is in a major joint venture that is not in Apple's BFF list, Samsung Corning Precision Glass

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post #19 of 95
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Originally Posted by muadibe View Post

Not surprising coming from a company who sees the competition ahead.

It's not just that the phone cover will be sapphire, there is a very good possibility it will also contain solar charging tech. Imagine that, a solar powered plant producing screens that power an iPhone by solar.
Corning sees this coming and are unsurprisingly, spooked. I would be too, in their shoes. If this turns out to be true, it would be a major game changer and a serious threat to Corning's profits.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2062083-gt-advanced-technologies-is-ready-to-electrify-the-mobile-world

 

that's really fascinating, thanx. self-charging phones and pads would be pretty amazing, and only need a smaller battery, so thinner and lighter too. they could charge even when 'turned off' as long as there's light.

 

might work great for a smart watch especially. their small screens would keep the per unit costs modest, the thin screens can be easily curved, and the thinner the watch is, the better its esthetics.

 

but nevermind. everyone knows the days of Apple "innovation" ended when Steve passed. so what if they made an exclusive deal two years after that with the leading sapphire tech firm that's years ahead, are building its factory, and will probably buy it outright like they did Authentec.

 

besides, i want my removable battery! and SD card slot. and USB port. and IR blaster. and darn i miss Flash too. that's my kind of real innovation!

post #20 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post
 
that's really fascinating, thanx. self-charging phones and pads would be pretty amazing, and only need a smaller battery, so thinner and lighter too. they could charge even when 'turned off' as long as there's light
might work great for a smart watch especially. their small screens would keep the per unit costs modest, the thin screens can be easily curved, and the thinner the watch is, the better its esthetics.

I had a solar powered watch. It was always running out of power because it was either under my shirt sleeve or on my night stand. Neither situation offered enough light to keep it charged. I also had a watch that charged by centrifugal force or whatever swinging arm motion is and it worked flawlessly. But I don't wear wristwatches anymore. Someone might get the wrong impression that I actually care what time it is or that it is some fashion accessory.

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post #21 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They don't really have a Genius Bar do they?

Is genius really the most appropriate term when the bar has been set so low. 1biggrin.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I had a solar powered watch. It was always running out of power because it was either under my shirt sleeve or on my night stand. Neither situation offered enough light to keep it charged. I also had a watch that charged by centrifugal force or whatever swinging arm motion is and it worked flawlessly.

Solar isn't practical unless it can be added without any significant cost or bulk because even a few extra percent could come in handy, but I think it's doubtful.

A kinetic option on the wrist would be great but I am certain the power requirement for anything that I'd call a smartwatch would be far too high for that to be a reality.

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post #22 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They don't really have a Genius Bar do they?

Is genius really the most appropriate term when the bar has been set so low.

Don't know but one of the microphones in my iPhone went out and Siri could not hear me. I went to the Apple store and they told me that the affected mic was part of the display module. They switched it out in 10 minutes. That to me defines the service quite well.

 

You are funny though :)

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post #23 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

I had a solar powered watch. It was always running out of power because it was either under my shirt sleeve or on my night stand. Neither situation offered enough light to keep it charged. I also had a watch that charged by centrifugal force or whatever swinging arm motion is and it worked flawlessly. But I don't wear wristwatches anymore. Someone might get the wrong impression that I actually care what time it is or that it is some fashion accessory.

 

yeah good points. but i roll up my sleeves anyway. haven't worn a watch since high school tho. maybe i could get into it now. if it did FaceTime i'd have to have it.

post #24 of 95

I don't think it's about scratches. Based on Apple's history, they like to make things thinner and thinner and thinner...

If this stuff is stronger, you can get the same strength in a thinner sheet.

post #25 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I don't think it's about scratches. Based on Apple's history, they like to make things thinner and thinner and thinner...
If this stuff is stronger, you can get the same strength in a thinner sheet.

I've read some conflicting reports on sapphire being stronger. It's clearly harder but stronger may only come when paired other substrates, which could include GG.

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post #26 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

..."the company has obviously been thinking hard on the subject"

 

I bet they have!  Like how hard sapphire is! :smokey:

post #27 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post
 

I don't think it's about scratches. Based on Apple's history, they like to make things thinner and thinner and thinner...

If this stuff is stronger, you can get the same strength in a thinner sheet.

 

Apple also don't like people covering their sexy slim designs with chunky cases that also draw attention to how fragile these expensive devices are.  Smashed screen is the biggest curse of iPhone.  If Apple can give us a phone that's immune to scratches and inherently shatter-proof then they're on to a winner.

 

And is it just me or is the iPhone 5/5s thin enough?  Does it really need to be half a millimetre thinner?  I'd take 3 millimetres fatter for a longer battery life!

post #28 of 95

It's good that Corning brought all this important info to Apple's attention- they can now just write-off their investment and throw the whole plan in the toilet because of this enlightenment. Whew, glad Corning was able to warn Apple before they launched anything! It's not like Apple knows what the **** it's doing or anything, right? They just thought sapphire "sounded cool" and decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into production and their future multi-billion product line on a whim. 

 

No, more likely Apple researched and tested every fucking aspect of the material, and decided, after thousands of hours of hands-on assessment from hundreds of experts, that the pros outweighed any cons. Guess what? It was also "10x more expensive" to make the first iPhone out of glass instead of plastic- but that's what Apple did, because it was superior, and they were better for it. Corning can trash-talk all they want, but you can't change history- and history is that Apple put corning on the map, and made them the behemoth they are today. Show a bit of fucking gratitude. 

post #29 of 95
Corning is just butt-hurt.
Saying that, the next iPhone won't have Sapphire glass.
post #30 of 95
It's not for the iPhone display. Its for the current products that use it in the current way, eventual iPad touch id. And that stupid fucking watch. Until all that happens it's not for the damn iphone display.
post #31 of 95
The problem is that apparently all current screens do get scratched. Once they are, they lose a lot of resistance to impact. And if sapphire is to be used on a watch, it makes certainly more sense than gorilla glass.
post #32 of 95
Obviously, since Apple uses Sapphire to protect the iPhone's camera lens, it lets light through JUST FINE.

Obviously, since Apple is heavily investing in Sapphire production, Sapphire will be just as cheap as Gorilla Glass, and just as quickly mass produced.

Obviously, the scratch resistance of a Sapphire screen is very attractive.

Obviously, Apple's customers are going to be far more attracted to a Sapphire screen than a Gorilla Glass screen. Sapphire is a Jewelry Stone. Women and discerning men are going to be highly attracted.

Think of the cachet: Sapphire = iPhone.

Apple will be the only one to have Sapphire across the entire iPhone line.

Apple can also simply create LAMINATES of thin Sapphire Gorilla Glass to create strong blends as it likes.

Corning better get on the Sapphire Bandwagon. But then it may not have enough money nor technology to do so. They are already complaining about the cost. Obviously, Apple can lower the cost immensely.
post #33 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by jameskatt2 View Post

Obviously, since Apple uses Sapphire to protect the iPhone's camera lens, it lets light through JUST FINE.

Obviously, since Apple is heavily investing in Sapphire production, Sapphire will be just as cheap as Gorilla Glass, and just as quickly mass produced.

Obviously, the scratch resistance of a Sapphire screen is very attractive.

Obviously, Apple's customers are going to be far more attracted to a Sapphire screen than a Gorilla Glass screen. Sapphire is a Jewelry Stone. Women and discerning men are going to be highly attracted.

Think of the cachet: Sapphire = iPhone.

Apple will be the only one to have Sapphire across the entire iPhone line.

Apple can also simply create LAMINATES of thin Sapphire Gorilla Glass to create strong blends as it likes.

Corning better get on the Sapphire Bandwagon. But then it may not have enough money nor technology to do so. They are already complaining about the cost. Obviously, Apple can lower the cost immensely.

 

With a market valuation of nearly $30 Billion, the cost is not a problem. More than likely, they don't have the IP.

post #34 of 95

I think a major part of this is the support structure Apple provides through their retail stores. If you have a broken iPhone, make an appointment, walk in, they fix it, many times free, you go home. Where do you go with your cracked Samsung?

post #35 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by DogCowabunga View Post

If your sapphire plant is solar powered, the amount of energy required isn't that much of an issue.

 

You would need an awful large amount of solar panels to fuel the furnaces needed to make sapphire. It will be interesting to see what Apple comes up with, but unless there has been a significant improvement in the manufacture of the material, the Corning executive is correct. 

post #36 of 95
Why is everybody capitalizing sapphire all of a sudden?

Correction: almost everybody.
post #37 of 95
From Cnet on February 28, 2013...

http://m.cnet.com/news/this-sapphire-smartphone-screen-is-strong-strong-strong/57571618

Apart from being one of the strongest compound materials there is -- second only to the diamond that cuts it -- synthetic sapphire is highly rigid and won't buckle or melt in high-temperature situations. It is also slow to corrode, conducts heat at low temperatures, and is known for its excellent light transmission for wavelengths well beyond the scope of human vision. The screen was just as responsive as glass when I handled the device.

Grown sapphire is already used in aerospace, military, and medical devices -- especially lasers, protective windows, and highly specialized lenses. It's also used in LED TVs and bulbs, and the high-end watch industry, and it already existed in the iPhone 5 demo unit as a cover material for the main camera lens
.

'Nuff said.
post #38 of 95
What does "the puts and takes" mean?

Is this some regional dialect or spin on "give and take"?

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post #39 of 95
Hey Corning, GG might make some really nice baking dishes.
post #40 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I believe people tend to take much better care of their iPhones than Samsung users take care of their devices. I see people with cracked Samsung screens all the time. I've only seen one cracked iPhone and that was due to a horse stepping on it. If people do accidently crack their iPhone screens, they must get them replaced pretty quickly because I just don't ever see them.
[/quote

I see people walking around with cracked screened iPhones all the time, but very few Samsung's in a similar state myself.
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