The company that dashed our sapphire-covered iPhone dreams is being charged with fraud

In 2014, it seemed that Apple was prepared to make sapphire for what it had done for aluminum: to convert an exceptionally useful raw material but difficult to machine into a point of sale for its most iconic consumer devices. Apple announced a new factory in Arizona where its supplier, GT Advanced Technologies, would borrow $ 578 million to produce huge synthetic sapphire crystals, known as beads, to be cut into incredibly scratch-resistant covers for iPhone 6 displays. [19659002] That iPhone never arrived. GT Advanced quickly imploded under the pressure of trying to produce sapphire glass en masse, and filed for bankruptcy just a few months after starting work at the Arizona plant. And today, we learn that the US Securities and Exchange Commission UU He has accused the company and its former CEO of fraud, tricking investors into thinking that things would be fine shortly before the company collapsed.

In particular, the SEC says there is no evidence that Apple has unfairly driven GT into bankruptcy by abiding by the terms of its agreement, which allowed Apple to stop paying GT when the sapphire supplier could not produce enough high quality material. (There is an excellent Wall Street Journal report that you should read about how Apple's sapphire efforts were broken.)


the company that dashed our sapphire covered iphone dreams is being charged with fraud

Synthetic cracked sapphire boules used as evidence by Apple that GT had production problems
Image: Apple, via WSJ

The SEC does not seem to impose a great sanction on GT, and the company simply agrees not to do so again. The company's former chief executive, Thomas Gutierrez, will pay around $ 140,000, which is approximately $ 20,000 less than the value of the shares he withdrew in September 2014, weeks before the company will declare bankruptcy, according to the SEC report

In the end, the Apple sapphire stumble did not completely prevent the material from appearing on Apple devices. The high-end models of the Apple Watch use it as a screen cover, and it appeared on the start button of the iPhone and on its camera lenses. And we've seen it on the weird Android phone.

But it would have been nice to have an iPhone covered in sapphire, and we could still appreciate one, seeing how the scratch resistance of the Apple alternative, Corning Gorilla Glass, has plateaued

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