Here are your Apple rumors and AAPL news items for today:
Up and Running: Analysts says that Apple’s (AAPL) joint venture with GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) has started manufacturing sapphire, MacRumors notes. According to a research note from UBS Research, the factory, located in Mesa, Ariz., began producing sapphire in March. About 2,200 kg has been sent to one China-based Apple manufacturing partner, likely for use in display covers. UBS estimates that the shipment was worth about $1 million. The limited amount of material sent overseas suggests that the Arizona plant is only using about 100 furnaces and not yet running at full capacity. Shipments to the supply partner of exceeding $50 million in value would indicate that the plant had achieved full capacity. Apple will reportedly install between 900 and 1,000 new sapphire furnaces during the second quarter, on top of between 400 and 500 furnaces installed during the first three months of the year. Previous reports indicated that the factory could produce enough sapphire to make between 100 million and 200 million sapphires display covers every year. Apple already uses scratch-resistant sapphire in some iPhone components, but the joint venture suggests that the company intends to dramatically increase its sapphire use, potentially adopting sapphire display covers for its iPhones and other products, possibly including its much-rumored iWatch.
Big Demand: If Apple adds an iPhone with a screen larger than 5-inches, it could see a major uptick in U.S. sales, AppleInsider notes. Morgan Stanley (MS) analyst Katy Huberty has issued a research note estimating that Apple could increase iPhone sales by up to 15 million units in the U.S. alone with a phablet-sized iPhone. Huberty bases her analysis on a survey that found 47% of U.S. smartphone buyers would buy an iPhone if Apple offered a model with a screen bigger than 5-inches. Apple is widely reported to have developed two new iPhone 6 models: one with a 4.7-inch screen and another with a 5.5-inch screen. However, recent rumors suggest the larger iPhone won’t launch until after the 4.7-inch model debuts this fall, and possibly might not reach consumers until 2015.
Waiting: A California jury will resume deliberations in Apple’s latest patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung on Thursday, USA TODAY notes. Apple accuses Samsung of violating a number of its patents in older devices and is demanding $2.2 billion in damages. Samsung claims that Apple is exaggerating the value of its patents and alleges infringement by the iPhone-maker against a number of Samsung patents. The jury began deliberations on Tuesday. Yesterday, jurors sent a note to the judge asking a number of questions, including whether Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs referred to Google when deciding whether to sue Samsung over alleged patent violations. They were also interested in Jobs’ other comments about the lawsuit against Samsung and the reaction of Samsung executives to the suit. The judge informed the jury that they could only review the information that had been discussed during the trial.
For more about the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.