Posts Tagged ‘Iphone’

by Matt Magolis

Yesterday, I highlighted Apple’s mutli-touch sensor patterns and stackup patent that was issued on April 24th, 2014.  The newly issued patent claims indicate that Apple has put in some significant time and effort focused on improving the functionality of their multi-touch sensor patterns that will improve the user’s overall experience while handling a device with a curved screen. The number of individual claims has decreased from 39 to 14, however the precision of their 2014 claims versus the 2009 claims is astounding.  This newly issued patent might indicate Apple is very close to introducing a curved iPhone screen in the not to distant future.

Today, I wanted to share a few Apple job postings I found that indicate Apple’s focus on the “Human Interface” on Apple’s next-generation devices, which include the iPhone, iPad and Mac (iWatch not listed but we know it exists).  Apple is looking to create a completely new user experience that will that will further connect mankind to their portable electronic devices.

The first job postings goes back to January 5th, 2014 when Apple was recruiting for a Multitouch Sensor Algorithms Engineer.  The job focusing on gesture recognition, which is technology (Software) that typically allows humans to communicate with machines (Equipment) without any mechanical devices.  For example you could simply point you finger at the screen and the cursor would move.  The Multitouch Sensor Algorithms Engineer job description is below:

Be part of the engineering team creating next-generation input devices and displays. We are looking for a Gesture or Pattern Recognition Algorithms Engineer with working knowledge of gesture recognition, statistical signal processing and pattern recognition along with strong programming skills.

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Apple posted a position for a HID Multitouch Sensor Algorithm Manager on March 7th, 2014.  The position is focused on the “next-generation Human Interface Devices for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.”  The position will focus on creating “insanely great” sensing experience and focus on “groundbreaking sensing technologies”.  You can take my word that Apple is developing mankind’s “6th sense” and it appears Apple is going to take the human-being user experience to another dimension across Apple’s next-generation of devices.

Come lead a team of creative, energetic, and enthusiastic algorithm engineers responsible for next-generation Human Interface Devices for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. We are looking for talented individuals who enjoy creating pattern recognition and statistical signal processing algorithms, prototyping concepts, investigating new technologies, and ultimately delivering high-quality products. In this role, you will be at the focal point of many cross-functional interactions with the hardware, software, QA, industrial and UI design teams.

Lead the team responsible for developing “insanely great” sensing experiences for Apple products.
Spearhead the development and integration of new technologies from proof of concept phase through production ramp.
Invent algorithm architectures for groundbreaking sensing technologies.
Focus the team on parsimonious methods to achieve fluid customer experience.
Identify, create and document new sensing system metrics and specifications that deliver performance that matter to customer perception.
Simulate sensing system performance and error sensitivities.
Diagnose engineering issues with true scientific method, driving to definitive root cause, in close collaboration with cross-functional team members.

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by Matt Margolis

 

Appleinsider recently broke a story that Apple is planning to expand operations in Mesa by possibly adding a second building to expand production (see Appleinsider’s comments in the image below).  The expansion of the current facility along with a target date of June makes complete sense, but expanding to a second building just does not add up at this time.

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GT Advanced built a 20,000 square foot sapphire production facility in Salem, MA that was completed in 2011. The facility holds over 100 furnaces including over 80 ASF sapphire growth furnaces and there is plenty of room to spare to add additional furnaces, if needed.  The Mesa Sapphire Plant has 1.3 million square feet of production space or the equivalent size of 65 of GT’s Salem sapphire production facilities.  GT’s Salem sapphire production facility can hold over 80 furnaces and if we assume the same space to machine ratio within the Mesa facility the maximum sapphire growth furnace capacity inside of Mesa is over 5,000.  Appleinsider reported (see image below) that the Mesa sapphire facility will be equipped with 1,700 furnaces, which by themselves would only fill 1/3 of the Mesa facility and it’s more than likely in my opinion that the Apple has only completed one or two of the planned expansion phases within the Arizona facility.

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According to the Mesa facility lease agreement between GT Advanced and Apple will deliver the Mesa facility to the tenant (GT Advanced) in multiple phases as each phase becomes ready for delivery to the tenant.  The Mesa delivery of the premise from the landlord (Apple) to the tenant (GT Advanced) is broken into 9 phases and they are referred to within the agreement as Phases 1 to 6 and Phases A to C.  Appleinsider reported that the construction would be finished no later in June and based on the lease agreement between the two companies it seems more than likely that Apple may be targeting June to complete the remaining delivery phases inside of Mesa.  Once the remaining delivery phases are complete, Apple’s tenant GT Advanced to can grow sapphire and process sapphire boules within the remaining dedicated delivery zones (phases).

 

1.2.1       Phases. Landlord anticipates that it will deliver possession of the Premises to Tenant in multiple phases as each phase of the Premises (each, a “Phase”) becomes ready for delivery to Tenant.  As used in this Lease, the term “Current Demised Premises” shall mean, at any given time, the Premises or the Phase(s), and the portion of the Premises corresponding to such Phase(s), of which Tenant has accepted delivery in accordance with Section 1.4.  Exhibit C describes each of the nine (9) Phases of the Premises.  The Phases are designated on Exhibit C as “Phase 1”, “Phase 2”, “Phase 3”, “Phase 4”, “Phase 5”,”Phase 6”, “Phase A”, “Phase B” and “Phase C”.  Except as expressly set forth in Sections 1.2.2, 1.3 and 1.4, Landlord shall deliver each Phase of the Premises to Tenant in its then “as-is” condition without any representations or warranties regarding condition.

The master development and supply agreement between Apple and GT Advanced sheds some significant light on the contracted expectations between both companies.  According to the master development an supply agreement, the expectation is that “GTAT will at its expense, purchase, install, test, maintain and operate all equipment necessary to manufacture and deliver the development deliverables and the Goods”.  Additionally, “before placing orders for or purchasing any materials for use in Goods that are comprised of multiple components, GTAT will provide for Apple’s review and approval, a complete engineering bill of materials for such Goods…”.   The language in this agreement appears to indicate that GT will not only be responsible for development deliverables (sapphire boules) but the delivery of the goods (sapphire screens, sapphire components, etc.).

 

21.1.  Unless agreed otherwise in an SOW, GTAT will, at its expense, purchase, install, test, maintain and operate all Equipment necessary to manufacture and deliver the development deliverables and the Goods.  GTAT will also secure all materials in accordance with applicable Specifications necessary to timely manufacture and supply the development deliverables (pursuant to Attachment 2) and the Goods.  Upon Apple’s request, GTAT will purchase materials directly from Apple, and, at Apple’s request, will provide Apple with (i) weekly reports by part number specifying demand for such materials for the immediately following 12-week period; and (ii) weekly receipt logs of any such materials.  Before placing orders for or purchasing any materials for use in Goods that are comprised of multiple components, GTAT will provide Apple, for Apple’s review and approval, a complete engineering bill of materials for such Goods, listing the GTAT part number(s), lead-time(s), and cost(s) of each material therein.  Except for amounts due pursuant to a Letter of Authorization, the applicable SOW or Purchase Order, Apple will not be responsible for any costs associated with the materials.  “Equipment” means fixtures, tooling, test equipment and any other equipment used in connection with the development, manufacturing, testing, packaging, delivery or servicing of the development deliverables or Goods.  “BOM” means the engineering bill of materials that Apple creates and approves for the development deliverables or Goods.

The master development and supply agreement also indicates that GT will likely be responsible for storing goods for just-in-time delivery at an Apple Hub.  An Apple Hub is defined as a. “Apple-approved facility located at or near Apple-specified manufacturing or distribution facilities, or other Apple-specified location”.

13.   Hubs.  As agreed in any SOW, GTAT will store Goods in Hubs before their Forecast delivery date to support just-in-time delivery of the Goods.  GTAT will: (i) bear all costs associated with warehousing Goods in Hubs; (ii) maintain a sufficient inventory of Goods in the Hubs to satisfy the requirements of the then current Forecast; (iii) ensure that the Authorized Purchaser or its carrier(s) may withdraw Goods from the Hubs as needed; (iv) fully insure, or require the Hub operator to fully insure, all Goods in transit to or stored at a Hub against all risk of loss or damage until such time as the Authorized Purchaser takes title to them; and (v) require that the Hub operator take all steps necessary to protect all Goods in a Hub consistent with good commercial warehousing practice.  “Hub” means an Apple-approved facility located at or near Apple-specified manufacturing or distribution facilities, or other Apple-specified location.

 

The “9” Delivery Phases & Multiple Components within Mesa Takeaway

The “9” delivery phases (1 to 6 and A to C) within the Mesa facility are likely for specific products and/or sapphire components.  If you are going to design a manufacturing plant it would make sense to zone off area based on the specific sapphire “form factor” and the required finishing technique(s) to process the finished sapphire good.  GT’s former CFO Richard Gaynor summed up the “form factor” benefits perfectly during GT’s Q4 2012 conference call, “One of the benefit of the technology that we have is that it can actually change the form factor of the boules that you produce. And so you can actually customize the size of the boule to the application you’re trying to build for”.

In January 9to5Mac reported that Apple was hiring for iPhone/iPad manufacturing design engineers for the Mesa, AZ sapphire plant.  The master development and supply agreement specifically calls out how GT Advanced will handle Apple “goods” that are comprised of multiple components.  The iPhone/iPod engineering job posting in addition to the contract language regarding multiple components certainly send a strong signal that the Mesa sapphire plant will not be limited to just the iPhone.  I have thought for sometime that Apple would refresh the iPod alongside the upcoming iPhone in 2014.  The size of the current iPods and iPhones are nearly identical and it makes sense that you could grow “formed” sapphire boules for “multiple components” (iPhone & iPad) within the same “good” (sapphire boule).

The various contract agreements between GT Advanced and Apple indicate that a lot of activity is going to occur inside of the Mesa sapphire plant.  GT Advanced appears to be responsible for purchasing and installing the ASF equipment, growing the sapphire boules, producing the finished goods and shipping and storing the goods at an Apple approved facility.  At this point it is still anyone’s guess as to what exactly will be produced from the Mesa sapphire plant, but the “9 phases” and the mention of “goods with multiple components” certainly indicate that the scope of the Mesa operations may include all of Apple’s iDevices and not just the next generation iPhone and or iWatch.

 

 

Full Disclosure: I am long GTAT and have no plans to buy or sell any holdings in the next 72 hours

Matt Margolis – 2/17/14

I spoke with local Mesa resident Brad W., who was kind enough to send some pictures along as well as to discuss what he has witnessed first hand outside of Apple’s sapphire plant in Mesa, AZ over the last several weeks.  Brad paid a visit the Mesa plant just after dusk on February 15th and he was able able to get a nice view of the inside and outside of the facility.  At the time of his visit, nearly all of the overhead doors were open and the overhead lights were on he was able to catch a illuminated view of the inside and he simply said it’s “looking full”.  The outside of the building was illuminated by exterior building lights as well as generator powered lighting to continue ongoing construction outside of the facility.  Unfortunately, his camera did not take night pictures very well so I sent him back on Sunday February 16th to take some updated pictures for me.  He described the eastern exposure of the building as spanning “at least 1/2 mile to 3/4 of a mile in length”, the building measured “about 45 feet tall” and the northern exposure of the building spanned “a good 1/4 of a mile in length”.   A few weeks ago during a previous visit he had seen what he thought to be a draining system on north side being installed, but just a few weeks later that area was completely covered over with dirt.  It was reported last week by Bloomberg that crews busy were installing new transmission lines to feed electricity to the plant last month.  Bloomberg also pointed out that new solar and geothermal projects are being built because of the project.  Previous media reports suggest the Mesa Sapphire plant will begin producing sapphire as soon as this month.  The recent reports and eye witness observations suggest Apple has been cranking around the clock to get work completed inside and outside of the facility.

Below is the aerial image of the Mesa Facility with Signal Butte Road running east away from the plant and Elliot Road running south towards the plant.  This aerial picture was taken prior to Apple’s purchase of the building from First Solar.

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Below are aerial shots of the Mesa Plant after First Solar completed the building versus the before pictures, these pictures were taken prior to Apple’s purchase of the building from First Solar.

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Brad provided several pictures of the building, which provide a glimpse of just how massive the 1.3 million square foot plant really is. Below is the eastern exposure that spans 1/2 mile to 3/4 of a mile along with the front entrance.

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Below is the northern exposure which spans 1/4 mile including an overhead door which.  The extensive above ground power lines shown in the pictures below are usually not seen in this area and they could be related to the new power substation that Mesa officials agreed to construct.  Most power lines in this area are buried underground and out of sight.

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The last picture is the west side of plant.  There are two giant water tanks with a massive crane soaring in the air above them.  To the left of the water tanks is a smaller crane that could be constructing the cooling system.  Further to the left is a massive dirt file that is approximately 45 feet high and over 200 feet long.  If you scroll back up to the before and after pictures of the Mesa facility you will realize that water tanks and the apparent cooling system have all been added to the building by Apple since acquiring it from First Solar.

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GTAT received 232 Gas Compressors shipped from GT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES LIMITED (HK).  The shipment weighed in at 40,136 and was delivered on 12/28/13.  The shipment passed through the Long Beach, CA port.

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Matt Margolis

I came across a terrific article by Sebastian Anthony @ ExtremeTech.  Sebastian gets into the benefits of sapphire including transparency, it’s toughness and transparency and its resistance to acid and other hard substances.

Sapphire glass, except for its cost, has some incredibly desirable qualities. It’s highly transparent between 150nm (ultraviolet) and 5500nm (far-infrared), much stronger than normal glass, and it’s one of the most scratch-resistant materials in the world — it scores 9 on the Mohs scale, one down from diamond’s 10, and quite a lot tougher than Gorilla Glass’s ~7. Its transparency, plus its very high melting temperature (~2,000C) and high thermal conductivity, make it almost uniquely suited for use in arc lamps, laser tubes, and other extreme use-cases. Oh, it’s highly resistant to acids and other caustic substances, too.

Sebastian also takes the cost component of sapphire head on and refers to a source that said sapphire 3-4x the cost of gorilla glass a year ago.  As I know from my research technology changes fast and GT Advanced has been hard at work reducing costs and improving yield to compete with any cover material on the market.

There are two factors here that make Gorilla Glass more desirable than sapphire: cost, and potentially thickness. Back in March 2013, when we first covered GT Advanced Technologies, one analyst said that a smartphone-sized piece of sapphire glass would cost $30. By comparison, the same piece of Gorilla Glass costs $3. In the video above, GT says sapphire glass is around 3-4x more expensive than Gorilla Glass. Corning itself says that sapphire glass isn’t thin enough — though, again in our March 2013 story, it sounded like GT had acquired some technology that would allow for the creation of thin sheets of sapphire glass.

I think more and more people are understanding why Apple is making the switch on the surface to sapphire glass but the truth behind the move to sapphire is more than cover deep.

I love when you get tomorrow’s news today.  A new report out of the South China Morning Pos is a 100% contradiction of the gforgames report that emerged early this afternoon with headlining that Apple’s next iphoine is highly unlikely to have a sapphire display due to skyrocketing costs.  The only similarity between the articles is that Angela Meng  does also mention that the cost is far more expensive than Gorilla Glass.  Angela seems very confident that the Iphone 6’s will arrive in September featuring a 4.7 inch and a 5.5 inch sapphire display .  I hope she is right.

App developers need to be poised for a redesign because Apple’s iPhone is getting bigger.

The tech giant will roll out the iPhone 6 in two sizes – 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch – in September, according to industry insiders who have seen the prototypes.

The new iPhone screen will be made entirely from scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass, they said. Sapphire crystal, second to diamond as the hardest material, is now used by Apple for its iPhone camera lens cover and touch identification.

It will also sport a new display at 441 pixels per inch (ppi), the same as the Samsung Galaxy S4. The highest definition Apple now offers has only 326 ppi.

“They have to tackle the phablet [devices that serve as both phone and tablet] market. People want bigger screens now,” one insider said.

The iPhone 5S, Apple’s largest phone at 4 inches, is notably smaller than the S4, which measures 5 inches, and the Galaxy Note 3, with a 5.7 inch screen.

Last week, Apple repurchased US$14 billion worth of its stock after announcing disappointing first-quarter results.

The company originally said it intentionally kept the screens small to fit comfortably in a user’s hand. Since then, the iPhone 5C has suffered poor sales numbers, its competitors have more or less all upgraded to larger devices, and China, the world’s largest smartphone market, has been rapidly snatching up Samsung phones.

According to the two insiders, the 5C will be gone while the 5S will stay but be made from cheaper material.

Despite widely circulated rumours that the new phone will be curved, insiders say the iPhone 6 will have a flat screen.

“The screens will be flat. Apple doesn’t do anything until Samsung does it, and then they improve upon it,” another insider said.

The arrival of sapphire means a dramatic increase in the cost of making an iPhone, as sapphire is far more expensive than the present Gorilla Glass, but it remains unknown whether the price of a single iPhone will go up.

The design “freeze” for the iPhone 6 – after which no changes will be made – is set for April this year, they said.

Apple Reports Q1 2014 Results

Posted: February 10, 2014 by mattmargolis24 in Apple Investor Information
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Key Unit Sales for Q1 2014

iPhone 51m unit sales 7% YOY increase over 47.8m in Q1 2013

iPad sales 28m unit sales 15% YOY increase over 22.9m in Q1 2013

Mac sales 4.8m units sales 19% YOY increase over 4.1m in Q1 2013

Ipod sales 6.0m unit sales 52% YOY decline over 12.7m in Q1 2013

Apple 10-Q Q1 2014


Forbes recently covered one of my previous publications amid rising evidence that Apple will feature a solar Iphone.    Head over to http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2014/01/26/will-iphone-6-improve-battery-life-by-inscribing-solar-cells-in-sapphire-glass-coated-screens/ for the full story

GT Advanced Technologies’ Future is Unbreakable

Posted: January 31, 2014 by mattmargolis24 in My Publications
Tags: , , , ,

Background

In 2009 a friend of mine introduced me to GT Solar and I loved the long term prospects of the company because of GT Solar’s involvement in the Solar Industry which I feel will continue to go through periods of rapid expansion and plateaus as new technologies emerge to drive down costs further and make new projects even more enticing. GT Solar was a one trick pony serving the solar industry that was about to peak in 2010 before crashing hard in 2011 due to oversupply. GT management saw the forest between the trees and invested heavily to diversify their business portfolio even though their core business (solar) was suffering a severe downturn.

To continue reading head over to Seeking Alpha GT Future is Unbreakable