Apple 'snapped up' sapphire displays, says Canonical founder

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth claims that Apple has acquired a large supply of sapphire displays, possibly alluding to displays with sapphire material that would be used on a future Apple iPhone.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
The Ubuntu Edge smartphone was slated to have a 4.5-inch 'sapphire crystal display.' Canonical's founder said that Apple has 'snapped' them up.
The Ubuntu Edge smartphone was slated to have a 4.5-inch 'sapphire crystal display.' Canonical's founder said that Apple has 'snapped' them up. Canonical

Does Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth know something about Apple's rumored sapphire displays that we don't?

During a Town Hall Hangout Wednesday, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth made comments about displays that his company was planning for its own Ubuntu Edge smartphone -- a concept announced by Canonical in July of 2013.

"Apple just snapped up three year's worth of the supply of sapphire screens from the company that we had engaged to make the screens for the Edge," he said (at roughly the 30:45 mark linked to above). The report about the sapphire display comments first appeared at Gigaom.

He didn't stop there. "Isn't it interesting that how many of the things we said the future needed to include are showing up on other people's roadmaps...Apple has also started describing their latest-generation mobile CPUs as desktop-class. That's another thing we said we need to have in the Edge was a desktop-class CPU. And we're starting to see the roadmaps for the devices from Samsung and others that have the same amount of RAM we were proposing for the Edge."

Indeed, the Edge, as planned, was slated to have 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, Ubuntu and Android operating systems (dual boot), and a 4.5-inch display cover made from sapphire.

Which brings us to the rumored next-gen Apple device, possibly the iPhone 6. That too may use sapphire in some way, not unlike the sapphire crystal Apple already uses for the cover glass on the iPhone 5S' rear camera and Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

In November of 2013, Apple signed a deal with GT Advanced Technology, a sapphire manufacturer. That plant, a "new state-of-the-art sapphire material manufacturing facility" in Mesa, Arizona is being readied for production of the rumored 5-inch class display for a future iPhone.

It's not clear how Shuttleworth's comments jibe with Apple's and GT Advanced Technology's plans.