If you’ve been following some of Apple’s drama recently, you might have heard about what’s going on with its sapphire provider GT Advanced Technologies. The company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announced it will shut down two of its factories, including one in Arizona, and will begin laying off employees. The news was quickly followed by statements made by GT Advanced Technologies, during which it said it had an “oppressive” relationship with Apple.
The two companies have settled in some fashion, that was confirmed today, and earlier reports suggested the split was “amicable.” So what’s the future of GT Advanced Technologies and what does this all mean for Apple? Cupertino publicly acknowledged the topic in a statement made to Re/Code on Thursday.
“Apple put a lot of effort into an ambitious new sapphire manufacturing process with GTAT which is not ready for production,” Apple said. “We’re going to continue evaluating GTAT’s progress on larger sapphire boule development, as well as consider other options for the facility. We remain committed to the city and we’re going to work with Mesa and Maricopa County to help the GT Advanced employees who will be impacted by this find new jobs.” Apple also put a lot of cash into GTAT, about $439 million, which is now being returned.
GT Advanced Technologies has argued that it was once primarily a supplier of products, not sapphire materials, and that perhaps its change of gears for Apple ultimately affected its entire operation for the worse. We still don’t know how this will affect the sapphire supply required for the Apple Watch, but Cupertino is still sticking to its “early 2015” ship date.