Tim Cook Says Apple's Sapphire Facility Is for 'Secret Project'

Sapphire BouleWhen asked about Apple's U.S. manufacturing efforts during a question-and-answer session with Apple shareholders today, CEO Tim Cook said the company's new sapphire production facility was for a "secret project" that he couldn't talk about, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Cook did not give any more information, but did say separately that the company is working on "extensions of what we're already doing" and also "things you can't see". He reiterated that secrecy is important because Apple is "getting ripped off left, right and sideways" by competitors.

In response to a question about manufacturing in the U.S., Cook pointed to a plant a supplier recently opened in Arizona to produce sapphire exclusively for Apple. There’s been speculation that Apple may use the super-hard sapphire to produce scratch-resistant screens for future iPhones. Cook said the Arizona facility was a "secret project" that he couldn’t talk about.

But then, he said other Apple suppliers "already make" glass for iPhones in the U.S. An Apple spokeswoman declined additional comment.

Apple routinely denies having any particular new project in the works, so it's possible that a future iPhone model with an ultra-durable sapphire screen is the "secret project" to which Cook is referring, though there are a number of other possibilities for sapphire crystal including a potential smart watch product.

Cook previously confirmed that the plant would make sapphire, but the company has thus far refused to say anything more about it. He also said that investors should plan to hold Apple stock for the long term, saying to investors looking for a quick turnaround, "I encourage you not to invest in Apple."

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Top Rated Comments

JonneyGee Avatar
90 months ago
Can't blame him for not giving details - he's right about getting constantly ripped off. Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint sensor as its primary feature... wonder where they got that idea? :mad:
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nunyabinez Avatar
90 months ago
It's not polite to tell someone you have a secret.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
One Bad Duck Avatar
90 months ago
Copying?

Apple cannot complain about being ripped off. All the front runners in every major industry copy each other. Just look at the car industry. Its called competition..

Tim Cook needs to quite his whining

Heavy lies the crown Apple
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgiguere1 Avatar
90 months ago

The iphone was not the first phone with a fingerprint sensor noob.

Read that again. He did not say Apple made the first phone with a fingerprint sensor. He said Samsung got that idea from Apple. The two are not necessarily related.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PlatinuM195 Avatar
90 months ago

The iphone was not the first phone with a fingerprint sensor noob.


Wait so it's just a coicidence that the Galaxy S5 introduces a fingerprint scanner in this generation, right after the 5s.

Even after the Motorola Atrix was introduced in 2011, then the fingerprint feature promptly discarded in the Atrix 2 and newer Droid models. In 2011 we had the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S2. Samsung had years to introduce a swipe based scanner but they just add it now?

I'm not saying there's not copying all around, everyone does it; but Samsung's timing for many things is just hilarious.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgiguere1 Avatar
90 months ago
Considering GT Advanced will be producing $500M-700M worth of sapphire in 2H2014 alone, Apple seems very optimistic that this "secret project" will take off fast.

An iPhone-sized sapphire screen cover is estimated to cost between $9 and $12. That would mean 50 millions of those products would be made in those 6 months alone. Since Apple obviously starts producing their hardware before they go for sale, those 50M units would probably take only ~3 months to sell even though they take 6 months to make.

For reference, it took the original iPhone 74 days to sell 1M units, and it took the iPad 28 days.

Whatever that project is, Apple expects it to sell a lot. As much as I would love it to be a product from an entirely new category, I have a hard time believing it looking at those numbers.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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