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back to article Help! Apple has snaffled the WHOLE WORLD'S supply of sapphire glass

Apple's appetite for sapphire glass is so voracious that it has bought up enough of the display material to keep a lesser company going for three years, it has been claimed. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu haus Canonical, said that his firm's attempts to buy sapphire glass for its Ubuntu Edge smartphones had been hampered …

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Blimey!

There's already a steel shortage, now sapphire...

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Re: Blimey!

Other medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium and Silver.

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Re: Blimey!

Heavy elements may not be used where there is life...Thanks for the Sapphire & Steel memory :)

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Re: Blimey!

Actually, not sure I want to remember that last episode - still gives me nightmares!

(loved it really)

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Re: Blimey!

*trans-uranic, heavy elements no less.

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Re: Blimey!

If that gave you the willies, try the original "The Tomorrow People". Not only is the music and opening credits ultra-creepy, within the first 10 minutes they've announced that they are going to take over the world from the inferior "saps" for their own sake.

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Re: Blimey!

Thanks. I'll check that out. I really enjoyed Sapphire and Steel, loved the old Quatermass films. Where are the stories these days with a brave scientist in the lead? :(

(n.b. by scientist, I mean one who actually uses science to solve a problem, not someone who is called a scientist and then punches their way to victory).

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Re: Blimey!

(n.b. by scientist, I mean one who actually uses science to solve a problem, not someone who is called a scientist and then punches their way to victory).

Or runs off to write a GUI in Visual Basic to track an IP...

Got the Sapphire and Steel DVDs. Still creepy.

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Shame about the Edge

Signed up for 1 on Kickstarter, would really have liked to try the desktop/mobile O/S system

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Re: Shame about the Edge

You too?

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Re: Shame about the Edge

Not a realistic hope of it ever getting funding. It would, IIRC, have needed an order of magnitude more orders than Kickstarter had ever achieved for a funded project. They may a well have offered to build a Death Star.

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Re: Shame about the Edge

I'm in £10 for a death star.

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Re: Shame about the Edge

I just checked the numbers. It was actually on Indigogo not Kickstarter (so the OP above is either mistaken or lying), the biggest project on which received just shy of $2 million. Shuttleworth wanted to raise $32 million. There was no way that was realistically going to happen and it was a fixed funding project (so if they didn't reach the target they got nothing). It was impressive to get even 1/3rd of the target but there was seriously no way that he expected to get funded.

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Re: Shame about the Edge

got wrong crowd fund sorry, got the flowza clock from kickstarter

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Re: Shame about the Edge

Put me down for 20, as I want the first go at the shiny red button.

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Anonymous Coward

New factory in Mesa?

Where is Gordon Freeman and the G-Man or is it now an i-Man calling the shots? I'll just settle down for the monorail ride down to the shop floor...

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah right Mark

The big difference is that Apple and Samsung are actually making something, your just talking about it.

Let me try it:

I think that smart devices are going to have to have 256G of storage. Now I just sit back and wait for the inevitable to happen and say "hey I said this had to happen, Apple and Samsung are just copying my ideas".

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Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

Or, on the other hand, Shuttleworth is right. Do you really think he is incapable of having a good idea, or that phone manufacturers would never pick up on a good idea that wasn't patented.

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Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

If Apple or Google had started shipping phones which plugged into a dock and became desktops, he would have had a point.

Saying that devices of the future will have better processors and RAM isn't exactly clear evidence that people are copying him. It's like the above example of storage space, exactly like that.

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Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

Sapphire displays are not the best solution, easily replaceable plastic displays are. You heard it here first folks ^^;

(in my defense, I've got a scratch on my phone screen I'd rather not have, and people are quoting >£100 to sort it. I'd happily pay £5 a pop for a straightforward plastic one that will need replacing every few months, than >£100 on a Gorilla Glass one that is a total pain in the ass to replace)

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Re: Yeah right Mark

sounds like he's just grumpy that not enough people were interested in the Edge to make the kickstarter work

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Re: Yeah right Mark

The approach Apple is claimed to be adopting over sapphire glass, reminds me of what Apple did with high resolution touch displays back when it launched the iPhone and iPad. Whilst Apple may be protecting it's supplies the effect will be, like then, to make it difficult for others to directly compete.

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Re: Replaceable plastic displays

@NumptyScrub: Sounds like you want a screen protector, although the good ones are usually more than £5 each.

I suspect that a lot of the ">£100" isn't so much for the Gorilla Glass display as for the labour involved in taking it apart and putting it back together. I've seen at least a couple of articles recently on how hard it is to fix modern phones and tablets because they tend to be glued together instead of screwed, in order to make them ever thinner and lighter. Disassembly tends to involve a heat gun to melt the glue, and the possibility of breaking something while you're at it.

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Re: Yeah right Mark

>The big difference is that Apple and Samsung are actually making something, your just talking about it.

Apple is doing what Apple has always done: steal ideas, spot upcoming technology, bring it together in an Apple wrapper (technology and marketing) and present it as something new that Apple has invented; and create a new market practically overnight.

I suggest that Canonical have demonstrated not only the concept but also that today's technology is capable of delivering the "super-phone", Canonical have also demonstrated the hurdles that need to be overcome in bringing the product to market when you don't own or control all three elements of the device (ie. hardware, phone OS, desktop OS). Apple having full control and deep pockets could actually bring a product to market ahead of Canonical; I hope Canonical have patented key elements, as going on past performance they could find themselves being accused of copying Apple! So whilst this particular complaint is about sapphire glass, there is a much bigger beast lurking in the background.

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Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

Hard often means cracks easily. This is true of Sapphire.

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Linux

Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

Watch manufactures have been using sapphire to make watch faces for years. It was inevitable that phone manufactures would pick up on it sooner or later. I don't think Mark Shuttleworth is the only one to have suggested using it. We've discussed it here before now. A quick Google back through el'Reg suggests that the Ubuntu crowd sourcing effort was launched on 23rd of July 2013, but an article from the start of May reported an MIT paper from March suggesting using sapphire.

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Re: Yeah right Mark

I'm calling diamond displays.

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Re: Yeah right Mark

I'd sooner have the well thought out, well supported Apple 2nd hand approach to something than the 3rd hand, mess that is the Samsung copy of a copy.

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Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

It'll buff out ...

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Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

Vertu used sapphire for their phone screens years ago. Shuttleworth's idea it wasn't.

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"I'd happily pay £5 for a plastic one every few months, than >£100 on one that is a pain to replace."

When the Tesco and Asda corner the market in lemons make soda pop with citric acid.

Why not!

Add some ascorbic acid and make it sugar free and I would buy some.

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Re: Yeah right Anonymous Coward

Motorola did this with the Motorola Atrix - Android smartphone when docked to the laptop kit became a Linux PC, and when connected with HDMI ran an on-board entertainment center.

It wasn't quite ready for prime time, but the concept was awesome - it's just a shame it didn't get more traction or be worked on until kit was quite fast enough.

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Re: Yeah right Mark @AC

>I'd sooner have the well thought out, well supported Apple 2nd hand approach to something

I think you'll find a large segment of the market in agreement, hence why Apple are able to apply their magic and create a market. No one can seriously say that products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad really came out of nowhere, but due to the Apple design focus and 'magic' these products clicked with the public and created markets.

In some ways both Google and Samsung have had their opportunity to delivery a Ubuntu 'superphone' since Canonical worked with them on producing the prototypes for their 'superphone' before deciding that they had to go it alone and have full control over the integrated device. Microsoft have so far focused on having a single OS across all platforms so the 'superphone' concept doesn't seem to fit their current world view, even though Win8 it's Modern and Desktop UI's could be made to conform to the 'superphone' idea. Obviously, Nokia (the part that wasn't sold to MS) currently have a platform issue with their phones and so could partner with Canonical... So I'm interested to see what Apple's interpretation will be, but at the same time do feel sorry for Canonical because they are the one's who have largely pioneered the concept and piloted the technology.

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Re: Yeah right Mark

I could care less if Mark is right or wrong, but I do wonder one thing,

"Apple has also started describing their latest-generation mobile CPUs as desktop-class."

Cause help but wonder how big the phone will be with the attached heatsink :)

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Acerbic acid?

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Re: Diamond displays

Now that is cutting edge technology

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Joke

Re: Yeah right Mark @James O'Brien "Desktop-class"

Don't know about the heatsink, but Apple have almost certainly identified another use for all those electric car charging points that are appearing all over the place...

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So buy Corning, what's the problem?

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Or invent something else. Necessity etc etc etc.

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Anonymous Coward

It's seen as last generation tech now?

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In fairness

Ubuntu have been playing around with a desktop / phone hybrid for quite some time. There are videos on YouTube of a Motorola Atrix which runs Android as a phone but when it's plugged into its dock it becomes Ubuntu.

I think the idea has a lot of potential though I'm not sure Ubuntu have the clout to pull it off.

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Oh well. You can't blame Shuttleworth for taking an opportunity to bring attention to his wares, but it's a bit rich to say Apple are copying him when Apple and Android phones are merely following the existing trend for ever more RAM, storage and processor grunt.

Wristwatches have sported sapphire faces for years, as did the Vertu phone (a stupidly expensive Nokia spinoff)

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Clear objective unbiased reporting...

"...hampered by Cupertino's greed..."

Nothing to do with a company ensuring it has the supplies/raw materials it anticipates needing over the next three years. Do companies apologise for a shortage of product saying "We could have got the materials we needed, but we thought it fairer to order insufficient for our needs so every one of our competitors could also have some"?

It appears that that's the way to go if:-

a) It's Jasper writing

and

b) It's Apple he's writing about.

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Gaming the suppliers

I do not have the numbers to know what Apple are really doing, but here is meanest possibility:

Apple place a huge bulk order and get an excellent price in return. The manufacture invests to increase production to meet the order, and delivers over a time scale of say 1 year. During that time, everyone else has to use something else. A year later, the manufacture asks Apple about a repeat order, and Apple replies "No thanks, we have two more years of stock sitting idle on the shelves." The manufacturer now has no regular clients at all, and is still in paying for that investment in increased capacity. If anyone thinks about placing an order with the manufacturer, Apple offer parts from stock at a lower price. Apple waits a year, then buys out the bankrupt manufacturer for a pittance.

As I say, I have no idea if this is Apple's plan, but it is a tried, tested, effective and profitable plan.

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Re: Clear objective unbiased reporting...

>>a) It's Jasper writing

I remember when people used to say the same about Anna. Like as recently as last year.

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Re: Gaming the suppliers

This would have made sense if Apple wasn't the one paying to build the increase capacity.

They tend to buy years of production in advance in order to give themselves a time buffer with the competition.

They've done it before, with the 1.8 inch HDD on the iPad Mini, for instance.

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GBE

Sapphire Glass isn't...

A glass, that is.

At least not from a materials science point of view.

It's crystaline rather than amorphous.

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Re: Sapphire Glass isn't...

No, it's transparent aluminum.1 And if it's good enough for whales...

1. Okay, α-Al2O3. But what's an oxide between friends?

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Re: Sapphire Glass isn't...

Transparent aluminium!!!

Look, we're spelling sulphur sulfur now, the least you could do is reciprocate ;)

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Re: Sapphire Glass isn't...

"But what's an oxide between friends"

In the case of aluminium - abrasive !

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