Glass has been chosen several years ago by Apple to cover its smartphone.
With this strategic choice, Apple created a new business where Corning and few of its competitors have been able to get billions of dollar of annual sales, just to cover a mobile phone. Now, Apple is investing in parallel in GTAT (but also in some Chinese companies involved in the supply chain of sapphire crystal growing, cutting and polishing) to have at least one new mobile phone using a sapphire cover display as a key differentiation feature.
According to Yole Développement’s analysis, the GTAT facility (based in Mesa, Arizona) will produce in its full capacity, twice as much sapphire as the current output from the nearly 100 manufacturers worldwide. In short, this facility is the largest investment, by fare, in the sapphire industry since its creation! And, of course, it will be used for the cover display business. But if GTAT capitalizes on it and uses part of its production for the LED substrate / wafer market, this will totally change the competitive landscape / structure of the sapphire market.
But this is only the visible tip of the iceberg. Indeed, the investment triggered by Apple’s interest on Sapphire has already propagated among the Sapphire supply chain. For example, thousands of equipment of crystal growth, sapphire cutting, slicing and polishing (not to mention the materials linked to these processes) have been acquired by key players of the future Apple supply chain or companies willing to be part of it, implementing in parallel the increase of manufacturing and also all process modifications to reach the price target defined by their customers.
In such situation, challenge is of course to implement large volume production for Apple’s new product and also to reach the yields where, simultaneously, Apple can get the right price and its supply chain can be able to grab some benefits.
How this could happen? What will be the impact of such investment (and level of production) on Apple, GTAT, Corning and of course all sapphire crystal and substrate / wafer makers, polishers, equipment suppliers (e.g.: sapphire crystal growth, wafer cutting and slicing, polishing…)? What is Yole Développement analysis about the current yield and future evolution? (…)
Well, all details and status of the production level, challenges in yield increase, who is doing what in the supply chain, level of investment and readiness at each level of the supply chain (…) are described in the report that Yole Développement has just updated.
If you want to really know what is happening and understand the impact of Apple’s new smartphone (to be announced soon) on your day to day business, there is just one solution! Get access to Yole Développement updated report on Sapphire: “Sapphire Applications & Market: from LED to Consumer Electronic" - More information here