Gorilla Glass has become almost ubiquitous in the mobile market when you’re thinking about protective screens for your smartphone or tablet. There are other competitors out there like Dragontail, which may even be harder to break than Gorilla Glass, but the Gorilla Glass brand is so strong now, almost all companies choose it for their high-end products.
Samsung seems to have so much trust in Gorilla Glass and its future, that it’s buying 7.4 percent of the company behind it, Corning. This move means Samsung gets to secure supply of Gorilla Glass for its devices for 10 years, until 2023. The rumors that Apple may be making a TV that is covered in Gorilla Glass may have something to do with this, too. Samsung may also need Corning’s Willow Glass which is super flexible, and could be a great match for Samsung’s own flexible YOUM display. That combination could finally lead us to those “unbreakable phones” (or at least the screens in them).
But was a 10 year deal really worth it? As I mentioned, there could be better competing technologies out there, such as Dragontail or even the imminent sapphire glass, that should become a lot more popular in smartphones in the next few years, and not just for small portions of a smartphone, like a camera or a button, but for entire screens, or even entire bodies. Sapphire is supposedly 3x harder than Gorilla Glass, which should worry Corning, especially if its price comes down in the next few years.
So what happens if in the next 3-4 years, something else than Gorilla Glass is wanted by consumers? Does Samsung keep using Gorilla Glass until 2023 regardless? I think if that were to happen, Samsung would start using a competing technology, too, even if they have invested so much in Gorilla Glass. By then they’ll probably already make a profit on this investment anyway, so it’s not like the money will be “lost”. That depends on whether they signed exclusivity contracts with Corning, too, but that seems unlikely.
Either way, expect to see more Gorilla Glass-protected devices from Samsung in the next few years. If a better and more popular competing product is going to come along, it will take at least a few years until that happens in the mass market.