Apple's relationship with GT Advanced Technologies, the company slated to make its sapphire screens, is over. First, GT Advanced filed for bankruptcy, then closed a pair of its plants, and now a settlement has officially freed the company of its exclusivity obligations to Cupertino.
As a part of the settlement, GT will pay back to Apple a $439 million pre-payment over the course of four years by selling furnaces and other technology as it exits the sapphire production racket. GT gets to keep all its intellectual property as part of the deal, and will continue a "technical exchange" with Apple, though the details of what that actually means are unclear.
What it sounds like is that Apple is in a bit of a tough spot for sapphire screens going forward, especially considering the launch of the Apple Watch is presumably coming early next year. It's possible that "technical exchange" will provide Apple with information that could be helpful in producing sapphire glass going forward, but only if it can find another company to actually make the damn screens. And fast. [GT Advanced via Reuters]