Business

Apple-Backed Sapphire Producer Files For Bankruptcy

GT Advanced Technologies, an Apple-backed sapphire crystal producer is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company's stock is at an all time low.

Apple-Backed Sapphire Producer Files For Bankruptcy
GT Advanced Technologies
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GT Advanced Technologies, the company tasked with providing sapphire crystal for several of Apple's devices, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to court documents filed Monday. Under Chapter 11, the company can continue to do business while repaying its creditors. 

You might not have heard of GT Advanced, but if you keep up with Apple rumors, you've likely heard of sapphire crystal. Apple uses it in its camera lens covers, Touch ID sensors and the upcoming Apple Watch. (Video via GT Advanced Technology)

The ultra-hard material was also rumored to be used in Apple's latest phones, with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus displays supposedly being made from sapphire crystal instead of the typical chemically-strengthened glass. 

But that didn't happen. According to a report by technology analyst Matt Margolis, Apple made a last-minute shift away from the new screens because of low yields. There simply weren't enough sapphire displays for the number of iPhones Apple was making. 

There are also a few reports out there, like this one from Business Insider, that suggest Apple never intended to use sapphire crystal for its iPhone displays because, while the material is more scratch resistant than glass, it's also reportedly more brittle — meaning it would be more likely to shatter if dropped. 

Regardless, on Sept. 9, Apple pulled back the curtain on its updated phones and there was no mention of a sapphire crystal display.  And the lack of news sent GT Advanced stock into a downward tumble. 

That tumble, however, is nothing compared to what the stock looks like following the bankruptcy announcement.

Despite it all, the company's CEO Tom Gutierrez is keeping a positive outlook.

In a press release announcing the decision he said, "Today's filing does not mean we are going out of business; rather, it provides us with the opportunity to continue to execute our business plan on a stronger footing, maintain operations of our diversified business, and improve our balance sheet."

Still, as a writer for 9to5Mac notes, Apple's upcoming Watch is yet to be released. And two of the three versions — Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition — tout sapphire crystal displays. It's unclear how this announcement will affect production of the device. (Video via Apple)

This video includes images from Getty Images and Faris Algosaibi / CC BY 2.0.