Gorilla Glass is one of those rare products that can get a nerd as excited as talk of fancy new gadgets. The weak point of pretty much any touchscreen device is the touchscreen. They chip, they scratch, they shatter and they crack. The iPhone 4 is all the proof we need that more glass = more problems. But it isn't like we have the option of avoiding glass displays. Not with the tablet market inches from blowing into the mainstream.
Thankfully, "tough as nails" glass technology is jumping forward at around the same pace as everything else. Corning has just that they will be bringing the world more information on the future of Gorilla Glass at CES 2011. It isn't clear if we'll be seeing some new, tougher and thinner version of the same product, or if Gorilla Glass will just be making its way to a wider range of devices.
Sales of the special glass have done very well for Corning, lately. Their Q3 sales report showed that sales in the Specialty Materials unit were up 77%. That's a total of $159 million, much of it from Gorilla Glass. Shipments of TV Gorilla Glass are expected to start in this quarter, and larger devices with the special displays are likely to be a big part of Corning's CES showings.
So, what will we see out of Gorilla Glass in 2011? One possibility is a much tougher iPhone 5. The iPhone 4 has the odd distinction of being the most reliable smartphone, as well as the most easily damaged. Apple could solve quite a few of their issues by just switching to a tougher sort of glass. The Pre 2 will have Gorilla Glass, which means that HP/Palm will soon join the likes of Motorola and Samsung in embracing the material.
How tough is Gorilla Glass? You could read detailed user reports or pick up a few unlocked Defys and conduct some studies of your own. Or you could just trust in the fact that Gorilla Glass is bulletproof. Well, airsoft-pellet proof, anyway. The same gun is used to crack normal glass, and then bounces harmlessly off of the Tab's Gorilla Glass screen. It leaves a tiny indentation behind but, hey, no product is perfect.
This video talks about Corning's attempt to move into the TV display business. While there are many benefits to tougher HDTV screens (no more Wii-tastrophes, for one), estimates have Gorilla Glass adding between $30-$60 to the cost of a set. That isn't an easy sell in this economy. Then again, $60 is way cheaper than replacing a cracked screen.