Apple announced earlier this week that the company plans to build a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona, where GT Advanced Technologies will own and operate furnaces and related equipment in order to provide Apple with sapphire glass. Today, an interesting article by AllThingsD explains how Apple’s latest manufacturing facility, that will employ over 700 people, is a pretty big deal.
Noting that GT’s sapphire business accounts for 11% of its sales generating approximately $28.9 million in revenue, the report suggests that company’s sapphire segment will not only become it’s main source of revenue, but will also add a dramatic spike to it. It is believed that 2014 sapphire-related revenue at GT is expected to hit $480 million at the low end, and $640 million at the high end i.e a 15x to 16x increase from the current year.
“Apple is rumored to be looking at sapphire as a replacement for Corning’s Gorilla Glass in its next-generation touchscreens. This deal with GT — and the company’s agreement to fast-track development of new high-volume sapphire-manufacturing equipment — could presage that. Or it could herald a new device entirely — the long-rumored iWatch, for example, or whatever gadget Apple has planned for our wrists.”
Apple’s agreement further suggests that Cupertino has big plans and broader uses for the sapphire material it currently uses only in camera lenses and fingerprint-recognition buttons.