A couple of weeks ago the rumor mill was all abuzz with the possibility that Apple’s next iPhone would be getting a Liquidmetal body. After all, Apple licensed exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal’s technology two years ago, and so far as anybody knows, they haven’t done much with it. Incorporating it into the body of the new iPhone would be a great implementation for the technology.
Well, according to Liquidmetal’s creator, we shouldn’t get our hopes up for a Liquidmetal iPhone just yet. In an interview with Business Insider, Liquidmetal creator Dr. Atakan Peker. In the interview, Peker talked about what Liquidmetal is and how Apple might use it in the future. First of all, he said, the name “Liquidmetal” is a trade name. It covers a class of alloys with an atomic structure similar to that of glass. It blends many of the advantages of some of the more traditional materials used in gadgets like smartphones: it is strong like metal, but easily cast into complicated shapes like plastic, while being as aesthetically pleasing as glass.
Though the mind races with all sorts of uses to which Apple could put this sort of technology into its products, so far they haven’t done much with it. Peker says that the only thing he is certain Apple has used Liquidmetal for was the SIM ejector pin that came with the iPhone 3G, which he discovered when he bought one. When asked about rumors that Apple might be developing a MacBook with a Liquidmetal body, Peker said that the “size of the MacBook and the scale of Apple products” made it “unlikely” that such a thing would happen anytime soon.
He did not mention rumors concerning a Liquidmetal iPhone, though he did say that he expects that Apple will “use this technology in a breakthrough product.” Now, that leaves a lot open for interpretation – the next iPhone could be considered a “breakthrough product,” under the right circumstances. But considering that the next iPhone will be the sixth generation, it would have to have a pretty spectacular feature set to be called “breakthrough.” What’s more, if the scale of the MacBook is prohibitive to the use of Liquidmetal, it’s a fair bet that the scale of the iPhone is, too. For all that a Liquidmetal iPhone would require less of the material to build, Apple also sells a lot more iPhones than Macs these days (almost nine times as many last quarter). So although Peker didn’t specifically say that the next iPhone wouldn’t be getting a Liquidmetal body, it’s pretty strongly implied by what he did say.
It’s worth noting, too, that Peker doesn’t appear to be privy to Apple’s product decisions. Note how he found out about the Liquidmetal SIM ejector for the iPhone 3G: he bought one and looked at the pin himself. Apple has licensed exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal’s alloys. That doesn’t mean that Liquidmetal necessarily has a hand in the actual design or creation of Apple’s products. That means that the “breakthrough product” Peker mentions should be treated as a hypothetical, not something that Apple actually has in its pipeline. It also means that Apple could be working to implement Liquidmetal tech on a larger scale than Peker thinks. Though, of course, the man did invent the stuff, and if he says it’s not ready to be put into MacBook- or iPhone-scale production, he probably knows what he’s talking about.
What do you think? Would you like to see a Liquidmetal iPhone? What about a MacBook? Is it possible that Apple is preparing to use Liquidmetal on a large scale, or will we have to wait a few more years for that? Sound off in the comments.