Apple Gives Corning $250 Million for Glass Research

Apple’s partnership with Corning has grown stronger, with a $250 investment in the materials supplier. Corning will use the fund to research and develop stronger materials and improve manufacturing output for Apple products.

Today’s smartphones and tablets are constructed of durable glass, however, they’re still prone to damage. Dropping your iPhone could potentially chip or crack the screen. As the iPhone evolves, so does the glass that encases the iconic device.

Apple’s most recent iPhone model is constructed with Corning’s newest Gorilla Glass. Frosted glass is used on the back panel to reduce fingerprints and make the device easier to hold. Despite being the toughest glass ever, it can still shatter.

After investing $200 million in Corning in 2017, Apple has more than doubled down on funding research and development for the materials supplier. Their latest investment of $250 million indicates a firm commitment to Corning. It also ensures Apple will have an edge when it comes to obtaining the highest quality materials.

The investment is part of a larger initiative at Apple. The tech giant seeks to increase investment in American manufacturing. Apple is responsible for creating 2.4 million jobs in the United States, partly due to tight relationships with suppliers.

The move is more about supply chain management than patriotism. Apple devices are still assembled overseas with materials and components shipped from the US to Asia. US materials suppliers, such as Corning, have an edge over foreign competition. Decades of in-house expertise in material science can’t be offshored or reproduced easily.

Apple needs high quality components for their products. Although the company considers cost, they never go for the cheapest components. By investing in Corning, Apple will enjoy the fruits of their research and development.

As Wendell P. Weeks, Corning Chairman states:

“This Advanced Manufacturing Fund award will allow us to develop groundbreaking new glass innovations, while also expanding our manufacturing capabilities. Most importantly, our ongoing collaboration allows us to create vital new capabilities for end users and continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible well into the future.”

Apple’s partnership with Corning isn’t unique to the tech industry, but it’s also not common. Most tech companies don’t invest in suppliers. This is a strategy of necessity. Selling hundreds of millions of devices a year, Apple needs to manage their supply chain effectively. Their recent $250 million investment in Corning shores up the glass supply for years to come.

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