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When the iPhone 6 was debuted in September, tech fans were blown away – but were also puzzled by the lack of sapphire crystal screens, a feature we’d heard would be included for months before the reveal. A month later, GT Advanced Technologies – the company Apple had contracted with to supply those sapphire displays – filed for bankruptcy. No one saw it coming, but a new report today sheds light onto why the company failed so hard in spite of the $578 million it received from Apple in an agreement to supply it with displays.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company had never actually mass produced sapphire crystal boules – the term given to the 578 pound cylinders of sapphire from which the displays were to be derived. Moreover, the first attempt, made just days before inking the deal with Apple, resulted in one that was “flawed and unusable.”

“They cylinder was cracked so badly that none of the sapphire was usable,” the report states.

From there, things went from bad to worse. In an effort to scale up production and improve the situation, GT Advanced hired 700 people, but at least 100 of them didn’t know who they reported to. “Two other former workers said there was no attendance policy,” it continues, “which led to an unusual number of sick days.”

The report explains that the company didn’t hire people who knew what they were doing, and continually produced sapphire boules that were below usable standards, as shown in the accompanying photograph at the top of this post. In the end, the most surprising aspect of this story is that Apple could let such lax production practices go on at one of their suppliers. Considering what sticklers they are for quality, the situation at GT Advanced seems to have been a harsh lesson in how not to work with other companies.

[Source and Image: Wall Street Journal]


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