There's already a steel shortage, now sapphire...
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 …
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).
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.
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".
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.
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.
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)
@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.
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.
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.
>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.
>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.
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.
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)
"...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
b) It's Apple he's writing about.
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.
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.
Look, we're spelling sulphur sulfur now, the least you could do is reciprocate ;)
OK, what follows is nearly interesting. IUPAC (International Union of Pure And Applied Chemistry) decrees that the correct spellings are aluminium and sulfur. USAians are generally allowed, but not encouraged, to use the correct aluminium.
Sulphur is sulfur as it comes from a Latin root rather than Greek, and early UK spellings used the "f". It was turned into the pseudo-posh "ph" later. There is a heated thread about it on The Royal Society of Chemistry website - Link: rsc.org
The definitive IUPAC periodic table is here: PDF file.
The only source cited in the article is Mark Shuttleworth - and his "Apple just snapped up the entire three-year supply of the same sapphire display we wanted for the Edge" quote suggests he was talking about a specific display or display component rather than all the manufactured sapphire.
Apple needs to buy all the sapphire glass to make sure no-one else can have it. The more I look at an Ubuntu phone (or rather a linux phone - just booted by Ubu) the more I like it. I worked for years on systems with much much lower cpu power and graphics capability than your average phone. I run nothing but linux at home and in the office and and soon I will be able to run all of those apps on my phone. For free.
So Apple will not be able to compete in the general arena - they will still have the fanbois but not the hoi-poloi who would be running around running enterprise level software in their palms if it weren't for scratchy screens. Its an interesting way to corner the market.
... they will still have the fanbois but not the hoi-poloi who would be running around running enterprise level software in their palms ...
Sorry Tom, although it does seem that Android has more traction with hoi-poloi fondle users, iOS (which comes from *NIX/BSD/Darwin/NeXT roots) seems to be more likely to be used in more enterprise level software than Android or Canonical. If you want to feel depressed, try Googling "Google Android vs Apple in the enterprise".
Non-fondle serious back-end Linux based stuff is often Red Hat/CentOS, or even pure Debian, Canonical's Ubuntu might be more friendly for CLI-phobic newbies.
Disclosure - I several horses in this race. Debian and OS X for keyboard stuff and an iPad Air for fondling. My mobile, a very ancient monochrome Nokia that only does phone calls and SMS, has a battery that lasts about a week...
Try reading about Gorilla Glass 3 here with a real comparison and evaluation.
Sapphire glass would be more expensive, prone to chips and slower to make.
Who do you trust to make glass for your display anyway, some startup in Arizona or the people who have been making EVERY KIND OF glass for over a hundred and sixty years???????
Apple is trying to get lower pricing and exclusivity. Nothing else.
You're right that sapphire isn't necessarily the way forward... only last week we had an article about manufacturing glass with micro-cracks, which allows impact energy to be dispersed without visible damage. Inspired by nacre, IIRC.
But sapphire prone to chips? I'm hardly the careful type, yet my watch face is fine.
Regarding cost, there is a more informed Reg article here:
If I want "a real comparison and evaluation" I think I'm going to choose a site other than Corning's. They have quite a vested interest considering how much they stand to lose if everyone was to start replacing Gorilla Glass with sapphire in mobile products.
You might as well go to Apple for a fair evaluation of the GS4, or Samsung for a fair evaluation of the iPhone 5S. Remember Microsoft's "fair" evaluations of Linux?
Diamond has a MOHS hardness value of 10, sapphire of 9, Gorilla Glass 3 of 6.
In this business, the name-o-the-game is to try to secretly accomplish something ... and then brag about it afterwards. It comes across as pathetic whining when complaining that someone else has realized one's earlier publically-stated "suggestions". If there's no more AlO3 on the market for the next 3 years, then invest in C coatings and develop the first viable super-thin diamond screen. Absolutely nothing would be more scratch resistant than that ...
There's little point in developing a diamond screen for the hardness unless it could be made cheaper. I'm at a loss to think of something a phone's screen will encounter that will scratch sapphire but not diamond. Pretty much the only thing is, uh, sapphire. I'll be sure to remember if I'm carrying a sapphire ring around in my pocket to put the phone in the other one!
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