Matt Margolis – 2/21/14
Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical founder and the man behind the Ubuntu edge concept and design, confirmed Wednesday via a Canoical Town Hall interview that GT Advanced Technologies was engaged to make the sapphire displays for their upcoming Ubuntu Edge. Tech enthusiasts will remember the Ubuntu Edge for their 4.5″ displays that would been the first non luxury mobile phone to sport sapphire cover glass. However, the crowdfunding effort to kick off the production of the device fell $19m short of their $32m goal.
Shuttleworth’s comments can be heard by your own ears at approximately 30:48 into the video. Shuttleworth was responding to a question on whether or not fans will ever see the Ubuntu Edge come to life and during his response he stated this:
“Apple just snapped up three year’s worth of the supply of sapphire screens from the company that we had engaged to make the screens for the Edge”
There has been a lot of buzz around various blog sites trying to figure out how this comment relates to Apple’s sapphire display plans on their next generation iPhone 6 and Phablet. Shuttleworth, make some additional comments that struck home and may shed some light on the Ubuntu Edge and the sapphire screen supply. When he spoke of the Edge he spoke of the device in the past and how the device featured RAM, sapphire displays and desktop functionality that other manufacturers are now using. He also discussed how the Edge did not make on this round of funding and that their focus will be on software development for devices of that caliber. Shuttleworth’s comment is below:
“for better or worse we are now focused purely on the software making for that kind of device”
The Obscure Analyst’s takeaway:
Apple has built a moat around the sapphire cover screen display marketplace. Just like in medieval times, when castles and fortresses were built, a moat was dug immediately outside castle walls and filled with water. The moat around the castle gave the walls unprecedented protection from battery rams, the weapon of choice during that period of time. Just like digging a moat in medieval times, Apple has bought up the technology and know-how of GT Advanced Technologies. GT Advanced is the only sapphire equipment maker or sapphire ingot producer on the planet today that can pull off producing sapphire crystal displays at a competitive price and deliver the volume Apple needs. Apple has indeed dug a moat around sapphire cover displays and is pouring water all over the mobile phone industries plans to add sapphire displays to their devices at a competitive cost.
Full Disclosure : I am long GTAT and have no plans to buy or sell any holdings in the next 72 hours