We all know who Corning is, right? Gorilla Glass anyone? Well, the New York-based company is a big supplier for Apple’s devices, and they just announced a new type of glass they have developed. “Willow Glass” is a new product that is ultra-slim, and flexible (see above image). They even made an intro video (as the usually do) for this new tech they’ve got (see below). Corning released a press statement stating that Willow Glass provides “LCD-grade substrate quality” and is compatible with roll-to-roll processing. Corning claims that Willow Glass provides manufacturers “with the inherent benefits of glass as a substrate while enabling cost-efficient manufacturing.”
We could make the glass here, and then ship it by boat, but that takes 35 days. Or, we could ship it by air, but that’s 10 times as expensive. So we build our glass factories next door to assembly factories, and those are overseas.
In Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs, Jobs had a meeting with CEO Wendell Weeks at Corning HQ a few months before the iPhone announcement in January 2007. Jobs voiced to Weeks that he should not be afraid of large-scale manufacturing; good thing he took the advice. In the book Isaacson includes this anecdote of the story:
Steve Jobs when he does the iPhone decides he doesn’t want plastic, he wants really tough glass on it, and they don’t make a glass that can be tough like they want. And finally somebody says to him, because they were making all of the glass in China for the fronts of the stores, says, “You ought to check with the people at Corning. They’re kind of smart there.” So, he flies to Corning, New York, sits there in front of the CEO, Wendell Weeks, and says, “This is what I want, a glass that can do this.”
So, Wendell Weeks says, “We once created a type of process that created something called Gorilla Glass.” And Steve said, “No, no, no. Here’s how you make really strong glass.” And Wendell says, “Wait a minute, I know how to make glass. Shut up and listen to me.” And Steve, to his credit, shuts up and listens, and Wendell Weeks describes a process that makes Gorilla Glass. And Steve then says, “Fine. In six months I want enough of it to make–whatever it is–a million iPhones.”
And Wendell says, “I’m sorry, we’ve actually never made it. We don’t have a factory to make it. This was a process we developed, but we never had a manufacturing plant to do it.” And Steve looks at him and says what he said to Woz, 20, 30 years earlier: “Don’t be afraid, you can do it.” Wendell Weeks tells me… Because I flew to Corning, because I just wanted to hear this story. Wendell Weeks tells me, “I just sat there and looked at the guy. He kept saying, ‘Don’t be afraid. You can do this.’”
Wendell Weeks said he called his plant in Kentucky that was making glass for LCD screens, and said, “Start the process now, and make Gorilla Glass.” That’s why every iPhone in your pocket and iPad has Gorilla Glass made by Corning. This is the reality distortion field that is, I submit, part and parcel of a guy who doesn’t believe the rules apply to him, even the rule about never cut in line.
Maybe this is a sneak peak at the not this coming, but the next-next iPhone. It’s believed Apple will use the 20% thinner younger brother to Gorilla Glass, respectively named Gorilla Glass 2.
What do you think? Is this ironic timing, and Apple has something to do with it? Is this related to all the iPhone leaks as of late? Let us know in the comments.