January 20, 2011

Asahi Glass Unveils Tough Gorilla Glass Competitor

Asahi Glass Co. unveiled a super-tough and scratch resistant cover for gadgets on Thursday that it says is six times stronger than conventional glass.

The product represents Asahi's intensified ambitions to grab a chunk of the surging global market for smartphones and tablets, which need a durable sheath to protect what is inside from the bumps, nicks and falls that inevitably come with use.

The biggest player in the market now is Corning Inc., which makes the popular "Gorilla" glass.

According to Corning, Gorilla glass is used by over 20 major brands in over 200 million cell phones and mobile devices.  Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets use the glass, along with Motorola's Droid phone and LG's X300 notebook.

It has been rumored to be used by Apple Inc., but neither company has ever confirmed this.  Corning says not all customers want to be identified.

Gorilla has been a huge success for Corning since it picked up its first customer in 2008.  It generated $80 million in revenue in 2009 and analysts believe its demand could bring in $1 billion this year as the glass begins to migrate to high-end TVs.

Asahi Glass said that Dragontrail matches the best products currently available and describes its glass as a "superior substitute to conventional cover material."  It said that it is multiple times stronger than soda-lime glass commonly used in windows, resists scratches and has a "beautiful, pristine" finish.

The Associated Press tested the glass and reported that it shows virtually no damage after being scratched hard for several seconds with a key.

Asahi Glass hopes Dragontrail will generate global revenue of at least $360 million and about 30 percent market share next year.

The product is already in some devices, but it said it could not reveal details about customers or when it signed its first deal.

President and Chief Executive Kazuhiko Ishimura called Dragontrail a "very important global strategic product."

"We aim for Dragontrail to serve as one of the foundations for growth for the Asahi Glass Group," he said at a news conference.


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