Corning says flexible glass won't hit the mainstream for another 3 years

Putting rumors of Apple's iWatch into question, Corning said that it will take three years before companies begin utilizing flexible glass in mainstream products.

Despite a flurry of rumors claiming Apple is currently hard at work on an iWatch device featuring a curved piece of glass, a recent report from Bloomberg suggests that the iWatch may not be a reality anytime soon.

According to Corning, the company that currently manufactures the Gorilla Glass used on the iPhone and other products, it will be at least another three years before companies begin utilizing their flexible glass in ready-to-ship products.

Companies are yet to come up with products that can take full advantage of Willow glass, which can be made in a roll similar to newsprint, James Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, said in an interview in Beijing today. The product eventually will let companies make curved or flexible displays.

"People are not accustomed to glass you roll up,” Clappin said after an event marking the opening an $800 million factory for liquid-crystal-display glass. “The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited.”

Interestingly enough, Clappin did mention that Corning is working hard to teach "very big name" customers "how to handle the spools." Naturally, Clappin didn't expand on that or mention any specific companies, but with all of the iWatch rumors floating around sourced from reputable publications, it's hard to imagine that Apple isn't in the mix.

Earlier this month, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg each reported independently that Apple was working to develop an iWatch featuring a curved piece of glass. What's more, the reports seemed to indicate that Apple's iWatch initiative was much more developed than simple R&D exploratory measures. Specifically, Apple reportedly has upwards of 100 product designers working on the rumored project.

The team, which has grown in the past year, includes managers, members of the marketing group, and software and hardware engineers who previously worked on the iPhone and iPad, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. The team’s size suggests Apple is beyond the experimentation phase in its development, said the people...

Apple’s James Foster, senior director of engineering, and Achim Pantfoerder, another manager, are part of the efforts to introduce a wristwatch-style computer, according to the people. Apple has worked on wearable devices for tracking fitness in the past and never brought them to market, said one of the people.

So we'll see what Apple has in store.

During Apple's shareholder meeting yesterday, Tim Cook said that Apple is constantly exploring new market categories. For years, there have been rumors regarding an Apple-branded HDTV. And now, seemingly out of nowhere, rumors of an iWatch have taken center stage.

via Bloomberg

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10