Monday, August 2, 2010

Gorilla Glass Could Be the Next Big Thing

gorilla glass from corning incIn 1962, an ultra-strong glass was formulated in the labs, but no one could come up with a practical commercial use for it. For half a century, this glass has been sitting in research labs with no purpose, but finally Corning Inc. has found a use for the super strong glass.

Corning Inc. is a 159-year old glass company. They are calling this new glass Gorilla glass, and they expect it to become the new face on touch screen tablets and high-end TVs.

Gorilla glass first showed up in 2008, and it has developed into a $170 million a year business. It has been utilized as a protective layer over the screens of more than 40 million cellphones and mobile devices.

Now as Gorilla glass uses and developments progress, it moves into the TV industry. It is perfect because it is very difficult to dent, scratch, or break. With Gorilla glass, TVs are going to progress into what can be almost considered a work of art. Companies are now heading in the direction of frameless flat-screen TVs that will get rid of the protective rims and bezels that are normally found on them. Corning is currently talking to different Asian manufacturers to negotiate the use of Gorilla glass in TVs by early 2011. They already have productions in their Harrodsburg, KY factory in full force, and they are converting part of a second factory in Japan so that they can fill what they predict to be overflowing orders in 2011. "That'll tell you something about our confidence in this," said Corning President Peter Volanakis.

Even when it is half the thickness of ordinary chemically strengthened soda-lime glass, Gorilla is still two or three times stronger. Because of the incredible strength of Gorilla glass, it can be as thin as a dime. This will help in cutting not only the weight of the TV but also the shipping costs.

Investors are already making predictions about Gorilla glass. Deutsche Bank analyst Carter Shoop says, "There's a wide range of views on how successful this product will be. But I think it's safe to say…it's a tremendous opportunity. We'll have to see how consumers react."

Paul Gagnon, a DisplaySearch market analyst, states that alternatives "obviously scratch easier, they're thicker and heavier, but they're also cheaper." He guesses that a sheet of Gorilla glass would add anywhere from $30 to $60 to the cost of the TV. I think that the general public would be happy to pay extra for this new, chic, frameless TV. Like it or not, TVs are becoming focal points in living rooms and family rooms across America, so why not pay a little extra for a sleek, stylish, glass work of art.

Corning President, Peter Volanakis, says, "This is a fashion trend, not a functional trend, and that's what makes (the growth rate) very hard to predict. But because the market is so large in terms of number of TVs -- and the amount of glass per TV is so large -- that's what can move the needle pretty quickly."

Gorilla glass is an amazing product. It is already used in over 100 different devices including Motorola’s Droid smartphone and LG’s X300 Notebook. It will be quite interesting to watch the developments in the television industry as they move forward with their Gorilla glass visions. A lighter, frameless TV sounds like a dream come true. We’ll have to see how Corning Inc. and whoever they choose to work with comes through as the next few years progress.

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