Apple to convert flopped sapphire plant into a global 'command center'

Apple has announced that it is to convert failed sapphire plant into a data center.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Apple has announced that it is to convert failed sapphire plant into a data center.

Apple leased the plant located in Mesa, Arizona, to GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) with the expectation that it would produce scratch and impact resistant sapphire displays for the iPhone 6. However, the company failed to produce displays of satisfactory quality and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2014.

Bankruptcy documents revealed that GTAT management considered the deal with Apple "onerous and massively one-sided."

"We're proud to continue investing in the U.S. with a new data center in Arizona, which will serve as a command center for our global networks," Kristin Huguet, a spokesperson for Apple, wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg. "This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we've ever made."

The data center will employ 150 full-time Apple employees and will create 300 to 500 construction and trade jobs, according to Arizona governor Doug Ducey. The data center act as a command center for the company's system of worldwide data centers.

700 jobs were lost at GTAT when the company entered bankruptcy, and Apple said that it has worked with its local partners to help find new employment for half of those employees.

Apple had initially claimed that the sapphire plant would employ 2,000 staff.

The plant will also be 100 percent reliant on renewable energy from a 70-megawatts solar farm that Apple plans to build nearby.

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