Late last year, rumors surfaced that Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s Motorola subsidiary was working on a new high-end flagship smartphone to take on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s iPhone. The device was reportedly called the “X Phone” internally, and it wasn’t long until the device’s existence was inadvertently confirmed through a job listing for a senior director of product management that was promptly taken down.
Just last month at the Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) Technology Conference, Google CFO Patrick Pichette went and candidly bashed the product pipeline that Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) inherited from Motorola, saying they wouldn’t live up to the search giant’s standards for “wow” products. “We’ve inherited 18 months of pipeline that we actually have to drain right now, while we’re actually building the next wave of innovation and product lines,” he said, adding, “We have to go through this transition. These are not easy transitions.”
Big G is clearly looking to flush out the mediocre devices that are already en route posthaste so that it can clear the way for a real “wow” smartphone. It’s now been 19 months since the acquisition was announced (and nearly 10 months since it closed). During that time, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has continued dominating the domestic smartphone market, comprising 65% of all smartphones activated on the three biggest domestic carriers during the fourth quarter.
Where is the X Phone when Google needs it?
Thankful for the X Phone?
According to a rumor out of phoneArena, Googorola is planning on launching the device in November ahead of the holiday shopping season. The anonymous source claims that the X Phone will sport a 4.8-inch display covered with sapphire glass instead of Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW)‘s ubiquitous Gorilla Glass that almost all modern smartphones have. The device may also pack a substantially beefier battery.
The talk of sapphire comes just after the MIT Technology Review released a report last week discussing the use of manufactured sapphire in smartphones. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) just started using sapphire crystal in the iPhone 5, but as the primary camera lens cover.
Sapphire is three times stronger than Gorilla Glass but also costs up to 10 times as much. Those costs should come down in the future, which may spur adoption and potentially threaten one of Corning’s fastest-growing businesses. However, that cost discrepancy means that Corning has time to continue beefing up Gorilla Glass. The glass maker just unveiled Gorilla Glass 3, which debuted on Samsung’s Galaxy S4.