I had previously linked to the case for why a future iPhone could be ceramic – though, as noted at the time, undoubtedly not any time soon, it would be way too expensive to produce at scale right now – so figured I’d link to this post that elaborates as to why this won’t happen anytime soon.
One part in particular I liked was about Apple’s mastery of aluminum:
This is not a position that happened overnight; it is a capability and scale that could only come about through iterative, strategic, long-term evolution. This started well over a decade ago with the MacBook Air’s unibody and has been relentlessly improved, deep partnerships cultivated, and new CNC machining techniques created to achieve the position Apple is in today. In many ways, Apple is far more dedicated to aluminum machining than the company ever was to the PowerPC and switching away will be far more tricky.
Also, if it were gearing up to launch a ceramic product at iPhone scale, we’d see the telltale signs:
While the sheer scale of that last option might only be fully comprehensible to someone like Horace Dediu
, the best argument I can make against it is from The Hunt for Red October
. In one of the movie’s best scenes, the US National Security Council is made aware of a new crisis in Russia when the satellite flyover of their major Atlantic port reveals heat blooms in the engineering compartments of every ship in the fleet. For Apple to bring a whole new long-cycle time process online for the next iPhone (now 10 months from launch), they would need warehouses with thousands of machines already in situ, with thousands more in production. Teams of analysts would have been reporting on such a move for months already.
To quote Captain Ramius, “Now they will tremble again - at the sound of our silence.” (via Daring Fireball)