Apple and GT have reached a settlement over the recent controversy surrounding sapphire glass production.
The recent issues between Apple and its sapphire glass production partner saw Apple without the vast quantities of sapphire glass it had invested heavily in, and manufacturer GT Advanced declaring bankruptcy.
GT Advanced has confirmed that it will exit the sapphire glass production market and wind down its Arizona and Massachusetts factories. However, it will continue its research into sapphire glass production methods.
Under the agreement with Apple, GT Advanced will be released from its exclusivity agreement with Apple, and it gets to keep control of its IP. So, the company can sell its fabrication technology to whomever it wishes. GT also gets to keep ownership of all of the equipment in its Arizona facilities.
So what’s in it for Apple? It seems the company now just wants its money back. As it turns out, Apple lent GT Advanced $439 million to kickstart the massive sapphire glass production process that would have seen the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus given super-tough screens.
GT Advanced has to pay that back, and it will do so (at least in part) by selling the advanced sapphire furnaces (ASFs) that Apple’s cash helped to buy. Apple will be entitled to a portion of whatever is made back.
Interestingly, GT also notes that “GT and Apple will continue their technical exchange involving the development of processes for growing next generation sapphire boules.”
Business is business, it seems.
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