Apple’s iPhone 6 will be launching this fall; that is, if GT Advance Technologies Inc., Apple’s sapphire supplier for its plant in Mesa, Ariz., is to be believed. GT released its fourth-quarter results on Monday and included a prediction on 2014’s profits as well. The results outlined a company that is on the rise starting in the second half of 2014, which coincides with the expected release of Apple’s next iPhone.
"Our results for the December quarter were in line with our guidance, and the anticipated growth trajectory of our business remains unchanged," said Tom Gutierrez, president and CEO at GT Advance Technologies. "We expect to return to profitability during the second half of 2014.”
The reason GT needs to return to profitability is that the company halted sales of its sapphire furnaces to shift to building Apple’s plant in Arizona. “We are pleased to have Apple as a sapphire customer and to be in a position to leverage our proprietary know-how to enable the supply of this versatile material,” said Gutierrez. Apple is a big get for any company, and GT is betting on a future with the California tech giant, which could mean sapphire will be appearing in future devices.
It is still unclear, however, whether the sapphire that GT is providing will be for the iPhone 6 or the iWatch. Currently the iPhone 5s and 5c employ sapphire screens for the camera lens only. Recent reports suggest that the iPhone 6 will come in two sizes, a 4.7-inch version and a 5.5-inch version. And some have pointed out that the production cost for Corning’s Gorilla Glass is cheaper than sapphire's. But Apple may be able to reduce production prices as a partnership with GT means it will be producing the crystal screens themselves.
No matter what, GT is excited about a future with the company. But their partnership isn’t exclusive, which might give weight to rumors that Apple will use both Gorilla Glass and sapphire on their new devices. “While our primary focus during the balance of the year is to continue to execute on our commitments in Arizona,” Gutierrez said, “our aim is to position GT not only as an exceptional sapphire supplier to Apple but also as an unparalleled world-class supplier of sapphire material and equipment to a variety of customers.”
The full fourth-quarter report can be read here.