Apple has once again made a generous investment into Corning, with the latest totaling $45 million. The Corning, NY-based company is the manufacturer of Gorilla Glass, the scratch-resistant glass found on iPhones and iPads. According to Apple, the awarded investment aims to "expand Corning’s manufacturing capacity in the US and drive research and development into innovative new technologies that support durability and long-lasting product life.”
The timing of the announcement curiously corresponds with an abundance of rumors surrounding a potential foldable iPhone that's expected to be coming in 2023. The latest investment adds up to Apple's previous contribution of $200 million in 2017 and a $250 million sum in 2019. Overall, the tech giant has now invested nearly $500 million into Corning over the past four years.
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According to Apple's chief operating officer Jeff Williams: "Apple and Corning have a long history of working together to accomplish the impossible."
That's right, Apple's collaboration with Corning goes a long way back, all the way back to the very first iPhone. Since then, Corning has provided glass for a wide range of Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch line-ups.
In fact, one of the latest hits of this decades-long collaboration was the implementation of Ceramic Shield Technology in Apple's iPhone 12 line-up. According to Apple, this technology makes the new iPhone 12 glass "tougher than any smartphone glass" and is reportedly four times more resistant and durable to damages caused by accidental drops.
However, Apple isn't the only company that has worked with the company on glass manufacturing. Corning's Gorilla Glass is now used in competitor smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S21 series. The Gorilla Glass is also seen in other flagship devices, such as the Razer Kiyo Pro webcam.
There's no concrete information on how Corning aims to use the $45 million investment, though the speculation surrounding a possible launch of a foldable iPhone leads us to believe that this investment could be a part of a much bigger project.
Back in a 2019 interview with Wired, Corning general manager John Bayne revealed that the company is currently working on thin bendable glass. And a month prior to that, Apple also signed a patent application indicating that it had plans to investigate foldables.
Just last February, Corning revealed that it expects devices to include foldable glass technology within approximately 12-18 months, which takes us to the end of 2022/beginning of 2023, the exact timeframe that was suggested in multiple Apple foldable rumors.
If Corning succeeds in doing so, then its new foldable glass technology could help create a new generation of foldable smartphones that don’t require a layer of plastic protection, such as the one used in Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2.