In addition to donating $450 million to a US-based company already over the past four years, Apple is awarding an additional $45 million to Corning from the Advanced Manufacturing Fund. According to Apple’s announcement, the investment “will expand Corning’s manufacturing capabilities in the US and drive research and development with innovative new technologies that support durability and long-lasting product life.”
Corning offers glass to a wide range of Apple products, including iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Both companies have a history dating back to the original iPhone. Last year they collaborated on the Ceramic Shield technology for the iPhone 12 lineup. Apple is “harder than any smartphone glass,” making the latest flagship four times more powerful against drop damage. Like Apple, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is used in phones from numerous Android manufacturers, including Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Apple hasn’t revealed exactly how Corning will spend its $45 million investment, but the timing is in line with a recent report that Apple could launch a foldable iPhone in 2023. In 2019, we heard that Corning is developing a bendable glass version. The company said it expects devices using this technology to hit the market within 12 to 18 months. If it works, the glass could allow for a durable foldable smartphone that doesn’t need the plastic protective layer used in Samsung’s latest foldables.
Corning said about his ambitions for bendable glass last year, “If you buy a phone with Gorilla Glass today, you’re touching the glass. This is what we are pursuing.