Tech experts predict big things from Apple's new Mesa plant

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz. --- Tech experts expect Apple to produce game-changing technology from its plant in Mesa.

The tech giant has kept plans for its new manufacturing plant secret, aside from revealing that work there will deal with sapphire crystal and glass technology.

Technology writers and bloggers believe they may have cracked the company's code, and expect big things from the plant.

Some believe the plant will produce new shatter-proof display screens.  Others also believe the Mesa plant will integrate solar-charging technology into screens.

"Their market share has been slipping, so they need something big," technology industry analyst and writer Matt Margolis told 3TV via Skype from New York.

They analyzed Apple's patent applications, memos to government agencies and offices, and job postings to draw their conclusions.

"Broken screens is probably the number one reason people come into the store," said Kevin Harper, who owns EZ iPhone Repair in North Phoenix.

Harper estimates he has fixed 12,000 smart phone screens over the last two years.

"Cracked screens aren't just an issue for consumers. It's an issue for Apple, as well," Mark Gurman of the blog told 3TV via Skype from Michigan.

Gurman also believes stronger display screens will come out of Mesa.  The sapphire crystals are already used on newer iPhone 'home' buttons and camera lens covers.

"The reason they use the crystal is because it's so scratch and crack resistant.  Imagine taking that technology and applying that to the display [screen]," Gurman said.

Apple is retrofitting a 1.3 million square foot plant in Mesa, which was originally built to manufacture solar panels for Solar City.   Now some in the tech industry believe solar technology could make a return to the facility.

"There's some debate over whether solar can be used to power the whole [phone] device. Right now, Apple is just looking to solar to give [the battery] a boost. So if that direct sun gives you an extra hour, or extra two hours, they'll take it," said Margolis.

It's one issue where the two experts disagree.

"I think the battery life problem will have an answer, but I don't think it's going to come out of Mesa," Gurman said.
Margolis found Apple memos to City of Mesa staff, which reveal the company hopes to be up and running this month.   Products produced could end up in iPhones sold to the public by fall.

"They could build 6 months of supply, and then launch something in September or October, for example. We'll have to see," Gurman said.