May 4, 2012
LiquidMetal: Will Apple Really Use It?
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
In accordance to tradition and history, iPhone rumors have begun to flow through the series of connected tubes known collectively as “The Internet,” suggesting a launch is imminent. Some of the largest and most widely spread rumors this year include a 4-inch screen, slimmer form factor and the use of a new material either on the back or the sides of the phone, known as LiquidMetal.Apple purchased exclusive rights to LiquidMetal back in 2010. The metallic alloy is said to offer greater strength and durability than glass, while remaining incredibly light and easy to shape and mold into whatever design Apple may need. In fact, Apple has already used LiquidMetal in their work before they bought rights to the stuff. The iPhone 3G, for instance, houses LiquidMetal in its SIM card puller.
So, as these rumors begin to pick up steam and Apple fans dream sweet dreams of metallic-backed iPhones, Business Insider decided to go straight to the source to get some answers about the use of the alloy in the new iPhone.
The resulting headlines cast a pall on the LiquidMetal clad iPhone, but did the interview really tell us anything yet to be known?
Steve Kovach of the Business Insider spoke with Atakan Peker, a co-inventor of the LiquidMetal alloy. Though Kovach said he wanted to get some answers “straight from the source,” it´s likely he missed a few key points.
CBS News takes Kovach to task over a few points, namely the fact that Peker doesn´t work for LiquidMetal anymore, hasn´t worked there since 2007 and therefore wasn´t around when Apple bought exclusive rights to the stuff.
It does make sense, of course, that Peker would know how the metal could be used in phones and computers. He did, by the way, mention that two phone manufacturers have already used the alloy in their products: Nokia and Apple´s best Frenemy, Samsung.
The part of the interview which is garnering headlines, however, is Peker´s prediction that Apple will spend “on the order of $300 million to $500 million -- and three to five years -- to mature the technology before it can (be) used in large scale,” as well as his estimation that, “a MacBook casing, such as a unibody, will take two to four more years to implement.”
The claim that Apple will “likely” spend 3-5 years maturing the technology may be true, but it has also been at least 2 years since Apple bought exclusive rights, and 4 years since Apple last used the technology in the iPhone 3G. Should Peker be correct, the time is about right for Apple to use LiquidMetal in the iPhone, even if it´s only used in a small capacity.
Peker´s no fool, but is he an accurate source to cite on the matters of Apple´s future plans to use an alloy created by a company he no longer works for? The fact that he doesn´t work for LiquidMetal anymore probably played a huge factor in his deciding to speak with the press in the first place.
Further raising doubts on his credibility, Peker also takes time to mention Apple´s long-rumored “breakthrough” product which can only be made by harnessing LiquidMetal´s special qualities.
Apple´s “religion of secrecy,” as it´s been called, would have excommunicated Peker had he given the same interview while under LiquidMetal´s employ.
All this is well and good, but it doesn´t answer the question of whether or not Apple will use the fancy new metal alloy in their new phone.
Like every year, we´ll just have to wait and see.