Apple and GT Advanced Reach Deal to End Partnership, GT to Sell Furnaces to Pay Debt

GT Advanced and Apple have reached a deal that will see the two companies dissolving their partnership, according to documents submitted to the court earlier today, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to GT Advanced attorney Luc Despins, the agreement between the two companies marks an “amicable parting of the ways.”

Under the terms of the deal, GT Advanced will sell off more than 2,000 sapphire furnaces, with some of the proceeds going to Apple as repayment for the $440 million loan the company gave GT to purchase the sapphire equipment.

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Mr. Despins said the proposed settlement allows GT Advanced to try to sell the furnaces at the Mesa, Ariz. sapphire-manufacturing facility, and give the money to Apple, which financed the equipment. GT Advanced would surrender its claims against Apple, under the deal, and agree not to disparage the technology giant, Mr. Despins said.

There was some speculation that GT Advanced was aiming to force Apple into taking over the sapphire operation, but it appears that Apple is not interested as both parties seem to want out of the deal. With GT planning to sell off all of the furnaces, it is unclear whether Apple will be able to source enough sapphire from other suppliers in order to incorporate sapphire into the iPhone display in the future.

Apple and GT Advanced have also agreed to file a revised explanation for the company’s bankruptcy filing, which will be provided to the court at a November 25 hearing, but the original court papers remain sealed. If approved, the settlement between GT Advanced and Apple will see original court papers stricken from the court record, keeping the details of what went wrong between the two companies quiet.

Rumors have suggested that the deal between GT Advanced and Apple began falling apart early on, with GT Advanced missing technical milestones as early as February. A failure to produce high-quality sapphire led Apple to withhold a final $139 million loan payment, which may have been the reason behind GT Advanced’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing in early October.

GT Advanced will begin winding down operations at its sapphire plant in the near future, eliminating the jobs of more than 727 employees in the coming weeks. GT Advanced plans to prepare existing sapphire boules for sale, clean and sell furnaces, and then close the plant for good by December 31.








Apple Reportedly Preparing Holiday Launch of Apple Pay Loyalty Rewards Program

passbook_icon_ios_8Apple may have its rumored loyalty rewards program ready for the holiday shopping season, claims Bank Innovation. The loyalty program originally was thought to be launching alongside “Apple Pay 2.0″ in October 2015, but recent reports suggest Apple may be pushed it ahead by a year due to merchant demand.

The loyalty program looks like it will come this year, based on Digiday’s timetable. This was unexpected — many had assumed the program would wait until the launch of Apple Pay 2.0, tentatively scheduled for October 2015. It looks like market demand pushed the timetable up to this holiday season, which my sources within the retail industry have said for sme time is “super unlikely.”

A previous report from Digiday, described as being “pretty accurate” by Bank Innovation sources, claims Apple plans to monetize its mobile payment system by integrating iAds with Apple Pay. This iAds portion of the loyalty system allegedly will use iBeacons and Bluetooth LE to push targeted ads with a “tap-to-buy” button to customers while they are visiting a participating merchant.

One way they’ve [Apple] thought up is, say you’re in a Duane Reade, hypothetically. You get a push notification from Pepsi that they’ve worked out a deal with Duane Reade that you can get a free case of Pepsi. Just pick it up and use Apple Pay at the counter.

Apple Pay officially launched yesterday and is compatible with major payment network, including American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. In-store NFC payments will require the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, while those devices and the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will be able to make online purchases with Apple Pay.




Apple Pay Shown to Work Internationally Using U.S.-Based Credit Cards

Apple Pay launched on Monday with iOS 8.1, allowing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners to make contactless payments via NFC with Touch ID for authentication.

Though the initial launch is occurring in the United States where Apple has focused its efforts on getting credit card companies, banks, and retailers on board, international iPhone owners can also take advantage of Apple Pay if they have a supported U.S.-based credit card, as documented in Whirlpool forums and pointed out by Australian Beau Giles. Users in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere have also successfully used Apple Pay.

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To use Apple Pay in countries outside the U.S., Giles notes that iPhone owners need to change the region for their phones from their home countries to the United States. This enables Apple Pay, which will accept participating credit cards issued by U.S. banks.

To show the Apple Pay settings, simply open the Settings app on your iPhone (or iPad mini 3 or iPad Air 2), tap on General, Tap on Language & Region, and tap on ‘Region’. Change it to the United States.

Now you should be able to visit Passbook and see the option to set up Apple Pay.

Once an iPhone is configured with the appropriate U.S. credentials, international owners can use Apple Pay at point-of-sale terminals that support NFC payments. Australians, for example, can use Apple Pay at locations that accept MasterCard PayPass, Visa payWave, or American Express ExpressPay payments.

As Giles points out, the situation is not ideal for natives of countries outside of the U.S., as using a U.S. credit card for these purchases will incur currency conversion fees that can increase costs significantly. But for U.S. users traveling abroad or for international users who have U.S. credit cards and simply want to try out the service, Apple Pay does indeed function internationally.

Though Apple Pay is officially supported in the U.S. for the time being, the mobile payment solution is designed to work with existing payment terminals around the world. Once banks begin to work with Apple and offer support for Apple Pay, the expansion of the program into international countries should be relatively easy.

Update 7:49 AM: TechSmartt has posted a video walkthrough of Apple Pay setup and usage at a vending machine in Canada.