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Code/red: Apple Sounds Off on GT Sapphire Debacle

Plus, Bale as Jobs, Chromebook sales "surge" and Ikea’s homage to "The Shining."

// HAPPENING TODAY

  • Amazon, Microsoft, Comcast and Pandora all report earnings.
  • The 13th anniversary of the debut of the iPod, recently consigned to the “other products” category of Apple’s quarterly financial statements.

Hear That? It’s Champagne Corks Popping Over at Corning’s Gorilla Glass Division.

So much for Apple’s multiyear sapphire manufacturing alliance with GT Advanced Technologies. Not even a year old and it’s already headed for dissolution. GT, which filed for bankruptcy rather abruptly earlier this month, said Thursday morning that it has reached a deal with Apple that will allow the two companies to amicably part ways. Under the terms of the agreement, GT will shut down its factories in Mesa, Ariz., and Salem, Mass., exit the sapphire production business entirely and sell off its sapphire furnaces to repay the $439 million in prepayments it collected from Apple. An ignominious end to a deal that was expected to drive a stratospheric spike in GT revenues just a year ago. Said an Apple spokeswoman: “Apple put a lot of effort into an ambitious new sapphire manufacturing process with GTAT which is not ready for production. We’re going to continue evaluating GTAT’s progress on larger sapphire boule development, as well as consider other options for the facility. We remain committed to the city and we’re going to work with Mesa and Maricopa County to help the GT Advanced employees who will be impacted by this find new jobs.”


Good Take, Chris, but Could You Lose the Batman Voice?

Christian Bale is the next Steve Jobs. The Oscar-winning actor has been cast as the Apple co-founder in a forthcoming biopic written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, of “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting” fame. Based on Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Jobs, the film is rumored to consist of three vignettes about major Apple product launches, and Sorkin says it will require a lot of Bale. “We needed the best actor on the board in a certain age range, and that’s Chris Bale,” he told Bloomberg. “He has more words to say in this movie than most people have in three movies combined. There isn’t a scene or a frame that he’s not in. So it’s an extremely difficult part, and he is gonna crush it.” Shooting hasn’t yet begun, though Conan O’Brien has some directorial suggestions.


So How’s That China-Centric Approach Working Out for You, Xiaomi?

Chinese handset maker Xiaomi, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, is shifting the data of its international users to servers outside of China. The reasons? Performance improvement and privacy, though my guess is that the latter is more top of mind given the controversies Xiaomi has recently faced, including reports that it sometimes transmits unauthorized user data to servers in Beijing.


And in Two More Years, There’ll Be an Empty Microsoft Store Across the Street From Each of Them

Today, there are 15 Apple stores in Greater China. In two years, there will be 40. This according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who tells Sina.com that the company is intent on expanding its retail footprint in the country. “In the future, China will become Apple’s biggest revenue contributor,” Cook said. “It’s just a matter of time.”


GamersGate CEO: We’re Changing Our Name to Something Less Controversial — Like ISIS.com

GamersGate CEO Theodore Bergqvist: “As many of you are aware of, recently there has been a fierce and infected discussion about sexism as well as journalistic ethics in the gaming industry. We’ve received threats and harsh words from around the world and want to make it clear for everyone that Gamersgate.com is not part of this controversy whatsoever.”


Year of The Chromebook,” My Ass

Chromebook sales are surging, though “surge” may not be the best choice of words here. According to a new report from ABI Research, sales of Chromebooks rose 67 percent during the second quarter of 2014, and are forecast to double year over year. An impressive metric were it not for the fact that total worldwide shipments of the devices during the same period amounted to just under one million. In other words, they were about one percent of all PC sales. Congratulations to Acer, Samsung and HP for “dominating” the market.


Peter Thiel Resurrects “Blame the Hippies” Trope for Throwback Thursday

Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel: “We landed on the moon in July of 1969. Woodstock started three weeks later, and with the benefit of hindsight, that’s when progress ended, and the hippies took over the country.”


On the Plus Side, There Was Lots of Overtime

Monte Francis, NBC, on EFI, which had Q3 revenue of nearly $200 million: “A Bay Area tech company has been slapped with a fine and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in back wages after a United States Department of Labor investigation revealed the company paid workers $1.21 an hour.”


About Time Someone Made the Google Car, Apple Newton Comparison

Lee Gomes, Slate: “[The self-driving car] Google is working on may instead result in the automotive equivalent of the Apple Newton, what one Web commenter called a “timid, skittish robot car whose inferior level of intelligence becomes a daily annoyance.” To be able to handle the everyday stresses and strains of the real driving world, the Google car will require a computer with a level of intelligence that machines won’t have for many years, if ever.”


You Can Stop Whining About the Price of the Retina 5K iMac Now

An Apple 1 computer, believed to be from the first batch of machines assembled by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in 1976, sold at auction for $905,000 yesterday. Its buyer? The Henry Ford organization, which plans to display it at a Michigan museum. Said Henry Ford President Patricia Mooradian, “The Apple 1 was not only innovative, but it is a key artifact in the foundation of the digital revolution.”


Here Is a Video of Mark Zuckerberg Speaking Chinese

Maybe he’ll do the company’s next earnings call in Mandarin.


Off Topic

Ikea’s homage to “The Shining” and If You Took Away Their Bathrooms, Which Friends Character Would Pee on the Floor First?


Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments, Off Topics and Hemingwrites to John@recode.net, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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