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Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Apple iWatch May Spur Sapphire Market Demand

Apple's highly-rumored iWatch models are expected to be released in late 2014, an if they use sapphire watch covers, they ill account for 6 percent of the global sapphire demand, according research firm TrendForce.

The Apple iWatch to be released at the end of 2014 will be introducing sapphire material, according to LEDinside surveys. Sapphire is hard and scratch-resistant, and has been used as watch covers in traditional luxury watches for many years. However, the large handheld device market's demand strongly contrasts with luxury watches with a small production volume of 1 million. Therefore, the conventional sapphire manufacturing method, which requires Verneuil process to grow sapphire crystals, will be unable to meet handheld devices' large demand. Based on iWatch specs, a special type of sapphire ingot must be manufactured to meet processing and design demand in later stages, which explains Apple's need to build a sapphire supply chain.

It is reported that the first Apple iWatches will come in men and women models, and completely use sapphire watch covers. The iWatch display of the male model will be 1.66 inches, while the female model is 1.33 inches. If the demand for iWatch reaches 5 million units in 2014, it will account for about 6 percent of the sapphire demand. Industry insiders have different opinions on iWatch's total shipment volume in 2015. It is said that the device's stock for Q1 2015 has reached 13 million units. If the sales exceed expectations, the shipment volume might reach the optimistic market forecast of 60 million in 2015. Thus, iWatch's sapphire usage volume would account for 27 percent of the global sapphire consumption, which would grow 129% year-on-year in 2015. So the iWatch's market acceptancemay become a key factor in determining whether the sapphire industry will encounter a supply shortage in 2015.

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