Posted on 10 May 2012.
Rumors of a futuristic iPhone 5 chassis forged by LiquidMetal’s ingenious metal alloy might be overblown, claims its inventor. instead, Apple might be looking to utilize it for a more prosaic use, like the antenna.
Last month, rumors broke out of Asia that LiquidMetal, the innovative metal alloy licensed exclusive for use in consumer electronics by Apple, would be featured in the iPhone 5′s form factor. that rumor was only the latest in a long-running belief that the iPhone 5 would be the iPhone iteration that finally factored LiquidMetal into its design, but this latest rumor propelled LiquidMetal’s stock price up, as more and more investors seem to be buying it (the rumor and the shares).
But a recent interview with LiquidMetal’s inventor reveals that, while his plastic-like metal alloy may indeed make its way onto the iPhone 5, it might not be used to create a mind-blowingly cool form factor that many are anticipating.
Quoting the interview, Mobile&Apps reports that Dr. Atakan Peker believes that the implementation of LiquidMetal to be used in a large-scale production effort, such as an iPhone’s chassis or form factor, is still a way’s away:
“there is “no suitable manufacturing infrastructure yet to take full advantage of the alloy technology,” Peker said. According to him, the technology “has yet to be matured and perfected both in manufacturing process and application development,” and it would cost Apple quite a fortune. “I estimate that Apple will likely spend on the order of $300 million to $500 million – and three to five years – to mature the technology before it can be used in large scale,” he told Business Insider.”
To be sure, the $300 to $500 million-dollar price tag for ramping up the manufacturing infrastructure to use LiquidMetal would not seem like much of a problem for Apple, which is quite possibly the most solvent supercompany in the world today. But Dr. Peker’s claim that there is ”no suitable manufacturing infrastructure yet to take full advantage of the alloy technology” is somewhat believable, when you consider that LiquidMetal is not currently used to produce any large-scale product, in terms of its manufacturing scope.
But there are plenty of other “complex” products on the market today that feature LiquidMetal.
Head, for example, makes the LiquidMetal 8 tennis racket, which is constructed of the stuff. even more germane to the iPhone 5, the luxury brand Vertu actually makes a cellphone (not a smartphone) called the Ascent that is made out of the stuff as well. thus, I think we’ve proven that LiquidMetal can indeed be used at this juncture to make something like the back plate of the iPhone 5 — the big question is whether or not the company can supply and manage enough product to meet the production demands that Apple will have for it.
Dr. Peker does throw us a bone, however. According to Cult of Mac, he claims that the buzz surrounding LiquidMetal for the iPhone 5 could have something to do with it being used in the construction of a new antenna design: “Dr. Atakan Peker says Liquidmetal might be a good material for building a next-generation antenna to replace the problematic part in the iPhone 4 . . . LiquidMetal is already used to build the antenna for the Verizon USB727 wireless modem, which got great reviews for its reception.”
Of course, Cult of Mac also stipulates that “Peker said he had no direct knowledge of Apple’s plans.”
I think that Dr. Peker’s interview — and more specifically, the timing of his interview — casts a shadow of doubt upon what he has to say. just as the LiquidMetal rumors were dying down, this new spate of interviews comes along to shake up the rumor mill again. The LiquidMetal stock is essentially a penny stock: it trades between .14 and .50 cents a share. thus, investors can buy a boatload of shares and see their profits expand exponentially just by tweaking the rumor mill. The shares have recently settled in the .35 range, and one has to wonder if this recent interview is meant to drive the price back down again, only to send it soaring with another piece of positive LiquidMetal information in a couple of weeks.
Does that sort of thing go on in the world of stocks? Maybe it’s just a conspiracy theory on my part. I admit: Dr. Peker has an insight into his own invention that only the stakeholders at LiquidMetal and Apple can trump. But considering all of LiquidMetal’s current uses, I’d like to hear more clarification from him on why making a rear plate for the iPhone 5 — maybe with a cool holographic Apple logo etched into it — is necessarily years away and too expensive for the richest company in the world to handle in 2012.
By Michael Nace
Inventor Claims iPhone 5 Could Utilize LiquidMetal For Antenna, Not Form Factor