The corporate that dashed our sapphire-covered iPhone goals is being charged with fraud

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In 2014, it regarded like Apple was poised to do for sapphire what it had achieved for aluminum — flip an exceptionally helpful however difficult-to-machine uncooked materials right into a promoting level for its flagship client devices. Apple introduced a brand new manufacturing unit in Arizona the place its provider, GT Superior Applied sciences, could be loaned $578 million to provide large artificial sapphire crystals — generally known as boules — to be chopped up into extremely scratch-resistant covers for the screens of the iPhone 6.

That iPhone by no means arrived. GT Superior shortly imploded beneath the pressure of making an attempt to mass-produce sapphire glass, submitting for chapter mere months after starting work on the Arizona plant. And in the present day, we’re studying that the US Securities and Alternate Fee has charged the corporate and its former CEO with fraud, deceiving traders into pondering issues could be wonderful shortly earlier than the corporate’s collapse.

Notably, the SEC says there’s no proof that Apple unfairly drove GT into chapter 11 by sticking to the phrases of its settlement, which allowed Apple to cease paying GT when the sapphire provider couldn’t produce sufficient high-quality materials. (There’s a wonderful Wall Avenue Journal report it’s best to examine how Apple’s sapphire efforts shattered.)


Cracked artificial sapphire boules used as proof by Apple that GT had manufacturing points
Picture: Apple, through WSJ

The SEC doesn’t appear to be imposing a lot of a penalty on GT, with the corporate merely agreeing to not do it once more. The corporate’s former CEO, Thomas Gutierrez, can pay round $140,000, which is roughly $20,000 much less than the worth of the shares he cashed out in September 2014, weeks earlier than the corporate filed for chapter, in accordance with the SEC’s report.

Ultimately, Apple’s sapphire stumble didn’t solely maintain the fabric from showing on Apple gadgets. Greater-end fashions of the Apple Watch use it as a display screen cowl, and it appeared on the iPhone’s house button and over its digital camera lens(es). And we’ve seen it on the uncommon Android cellphone.

However it could have been good to have a sapphire-covered iPhone, and we’d nonetheless admire one, seeing how the scratch resistance of Apple’s different — Corning Gorilla Glass — has plateaued.

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