It’s official. GT Advanced Technologies has announced that it has reached a settlement with Apple to part ways. The agreement calls for the Merrimack, New Hampshire-based company to exit the market as a producer of sapphire materials “and will refocus its business as an equipment supplier, manufacturing and developing sapphire growth systems and processes.”
The company notes:
GT will be released from all exclusivity obligations under its various agreements with Apple. GT will retain ownership of all production, ancillary and inventory assets located in Mesa and Apple is provided with a mechanism for recovering its $439 million pre-payment made to GT over a period of up to four years without interest, solely from a portion of the proceeds from ASF® sales. The agreement provides for a mutual release of any and all claims by both parties. As a result of the agreed upon terms, GT retains control of its intellectual property and will be able to sell its sapphire growth and fabrication technology, including ASF and Hyperion, without restrictions.
As part of the agreement, GT will wind down its sapphire crystal plants in Arizona and Massachusetts. Already, the company has announced that it would be letting go of 727 employees at its Mesa, Arizona plant. Up to 890 workers could lose their jobs before the process is complete.
GT’s sapphire is used by Apple as covering for the Touch ID and camera components on the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6 Plus. It’s also expected to be found on the Apple Watch, since Apple has reportedly contracted GT Advanced to produce sapphire for the wearable device, which is due to be launched early next year.