June 20, 2012
Apple Renews Liquidmetal Contract
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com
Like the material itself, these rumors are strong, resilient, and easily formed into any shape analysts want. So far, we´ve seen rumors about a Liquidmetal iPhone, an iPhone with Liquidmetal components, Liquidmetal Macs and even a Liquidmetal Rumored Apple Television. Helping drive these rumors is the fact Apple actually has signed agreements to use this material exclusively in their products. So far, Apple has used the metal alloy in such crucial components as their SIM card pullers in older iPhones.
Yesterday, news sites began to talk about Liquidmetal once more, saying Apple has just upped their contract with the company. Now, Apple has exclusive rights to the stuff until February 5, 2014. Blogs found the news buried in Liquidmetal´s most recent 8-K filing with the SEC, which also revealed that not only does Apple have exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal until 2014, they also have perpetual rights to any intellectual property created by or acquired by Liquidmetal until February 2014.
Liquidmetal has certainly made its rounds in the Apple rumor circuit. The company happened to announce they began shipping “commercial parts” to customers on the same day Tim Cook took the wrappers off of the new iPads. As such, some began to guess the latest iPad would be made of the metal alloy. No such luck, as it was quickly learned the iPad was made out of the same stuff as previous models.
Then, a Korean report suggested Apple would use “liquid metal” in their next iPhone. The same report also claimed the new iPhone would be introduced at last week´s WWDC. As some had smartly pointed out, “Liquid Metal” and “Liquidmetal” are two different things and, therefore, the report was seen as mostly bunk.
To make sure the record was sufficiently set straight, Steve Kovach of Business Insider sought out Peter Atakan, one of the inventors of Liquidmetal alloy.
In the resulting interview, Atakan made claims such as: Apple would 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,” and estimated “a MacBook casing, such as a unibody, will take two to four more years to implement.”
Atakan has more knowledge about the material than he does Apple´s planned use of it. Furthermore, Atakan left Liquidmetal 3 years before Apple bought exclusive rights to the stuff in 2010. What´s more, Atakan even took time to take a stab or two at those hot, Rumored Apple Television rumors for extra points, saying their new “breakthrough” technology would take advantage of Liquidmetal´s special qualities.
At this point, it´s quite obvious Apple wants to either use Liquidmetal in an upcoming device or simply prevent Samsung from using it in their Galaxy devices. While it would be nice to hold a Liquidmetal iPhone, I think it might also be just as likely they are preventing other companies from doing the same thing.