On Friday, Corning announced that the company is working on ‘Project Phire’ as it prepares to ship a new glass composition which will be just as scratch resistant as sapphire while offering increased drop-protection.
Apple’s plan to replace Gorilla Glass with sapphire glass in iPhone 6 didn’t go so well as their partnership with GT Advanced resulted in dissolution due to production issues.
Apple and Corning’s Gorilla Glass share a long history. When Steve Jobs was working on the original iPhone he didn’t want to use a plastic screen, instead wanted it to be made of glass. Since glass screen would have been too easy to break someone recommended that Jobs should see what Corning was doing. At that time Corning was developing the Gorilla Glass technology however, it wasn’t ready for mass production. Jobs ordered a ton of Gorilla Glass and kept telling Corning CEO Wendell Weeks, “Don’t be afraid. You can do this.” In 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone with Gorilla Glass.
Corning’s Gorilla Glass has seen tremendous improvements since it began its first mass production in 2006. Gorilla Glass 2 was 30% thinner than the former, Gorilla Glass 3 used an entirely new composition. Gorilla Glass 4 which is expected to be featured on smartphones, tablets and other devices this year is twice as shatter-resistant in drop tests when compared to previous version.
It’s obvious that Apple makes for a large part of Corning’s revenue and they would’ve seen Apple’s move to consider sapphire for iPhone 6 as a possible threat. The company seems to have taken that as a challenge and started work on offering the same scratch-resistance as sapphire with ‘Project Phire’.
Competition in most cases can lead to innovation and if ‘Project Phire’ turns out to offer what Corning is promising then it is possible that Apple will continue to use Corning’s technology in upcoming iOS devices. Coring didn’t immediately provide any demo video or live demonstration of its new technology however, we can expect the company to share an update soon.
Glass used on smartphones and tablets is increasingly becoming another core technology. Apple has consistently shown interest in owning core technologies as it did try to “own” glass technology by partnering with GT Advanced for sapphire production.
It will be interesting to see if Apple continues to rely on Corning for its screen technology or develop something new.
Corning Gorilla Glass 4 Video