GT Advanced Technologies, which has a supply relationship with Apple after an agreement struck late last year, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company will continue to operate as normal despite the filing, which is designed to protect its assets and operating budget from debt while it restructures and re-finances its obligations.
Apple’s relationship with GT Advanced Technologies includes a contract that covers $578 million worth of synthetic sapphire production, which it now seems apparent is being used at least for the construction of the Apple Watch, which boasts sapphire on its higher-end models, though it uses strengthened glass (like the iPhone 6) on the entry-level Sports editions.
While many analysts and observers had anticipated GT Advanced Technologies supplying engineered sapphire glass for the iPhone 6, Apple instead went with its own reinforced glass product, which is similar to the popular Gorilla Glass option used by may other smartphone OEMs. Some speculate that the sapphire screens weren’t ready for the yields needed for iPhone 6, prompting a late-stage switch to the more readily available glass material.
The Chapter 11 filing might even make GT a more attractive business partner oonce it restructures, and shouldn’t impact any ongoing relationship with Apple, though more details are required to make clear exactly how their arrangement might be affected.