By BizLED Bureau
March 27, 2015: Industry analysts are optimistic about the developments in the markets for sapphire glass screens used in iPhones models. However, they are also skeptical about the developments that may take place with the launch of Apple Smartwatch, which also uses sapphire glass screens.
According to Yole sapphire specialist, who spoke at the Sapphire and Patterned Sapphire Substrate (PSS) Forum at the Taiwan International Lighting Show 2015 (TILS 2015), at Taipei, sapphire glass screens production will hopefully be scaled up in 2015. Sapphire glass screens makers are also expected to try out applications in high-end smartphones, and introduce it on a mass scale.
The industry also expects 18% of smartphones to use sapphire, as Apple shows the way. This would lead to higher sapphire production capacity demands.
However, this gloomy scenario can turn into a dismal scenario if despite Apple Watch?s success, sapphire cover glass remains absent in iPhones, because the industry is expecting about 18 million TIE of sapphire to be absorbed by smartwatch demands by 2016. However, if the Apple smartwatch flops and other iPhones do not use sapphire screens, then other smartwatch makers will also not use it, and as a result, the industry will excessive sapphire supply that will need four to five years to get absorbed, said Eric Virey, Senior Market and Technology Analyst, LED Devices and Materials, Yole. Apple alone accounts for almost one-third of sapphire consumption, and is, therefore, a major driving force in the sapphire industry.
Since Apple failed to introduce sapphire phone screens for iPhone 6, it is now uncertain if the company plans to use it in its next phone. Apple is still doing sapphire tests, and has got 12 sapphire patents, yet its smartphone sapphire display glass scenario is still unclear, said Viery.
GT Advanced Technology was supposed to supply sapphire glass panels for iPhone 6. But after GT filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2014, the industry is uncertain about Apple?s next sapphire supplier.
Foxconn, who was rumored to buy GT’s sapphire furnaces and manufacture sapphire screens for Apple, has been ruled out to be the nest sapphire supplier.
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