Sapphire material maker GT Advanced Technologies has won an important deal with Apple.
The iPhone maker has inked a contract with GT that will have the supplier producing sapphire-based materials at . Apple will give GT $578 million in prepayment, which GT will reimburse to Apple over a period of five years, starting in 2015.
According to GT, Apple hasn't requested a certain production volume, but Apple has required that GT maintain "a minimum level of capacity." GT also says that the agreement will be financially beneficial to its operation.
The big question, however, is what specific materials GT will produce for Apple. Sapphire quietly has been making its presence known in Apple products, first appearing as protection for the iPhone 5's rear lens. Sapphire is also used in the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S.
It's widely believed that Apple has high hopes for sapphire -- the second-hardest stone in the world after diamonds. In September, the US Patent and Trademark Officedescribing a method by which sapphire could be used to build a consumer electronics device. Details were slim in the application, but indicated that Apple is at least thinking about ways to integrate sapphire more prominently in its products. This latest GT deal seems to prove that point all the more.
(Via All Things Digital)
All the latest Apple news, featuring developments on the iPhone, iPad, Macbooks, OS X and much more.
Mar 23Reactions to the iPhone 7 Product Red, new iPads and clips
Mar 23iPhone 7 storage options: Why 32GB is likely not enough
Mar 234-year-old gets Siri to help save mom's life
Mar 23Workflow already looked like an Apple product. Now it is one