Can Gorilla Glass give laptops a lift?

Corning launched its Gorilla Glass NBT, which is designed for touch notebooks. Corning could do well, but needs Windows 8 to fuel an upgrade cycle.

Corning launched Gorilla Glass NBT on Monday in an effort to ride a potential touch laptop upgrade cycle, but the biggest wild card remains the reception to Windows 8.


In a statement, Corning said Gorilla Glass NBT will be included in touch notebooks and amount to 1 percent to 2 percent of the total cost of a system. Corning is obviously trying to replicate its smartphone and tablet success with Gorilla Glass.

The perks with Gorilla Glass on a laptop go like this:

  • Scratch resistant. 
  • Stronger screens that can stand up to some abuse. 
  • Better customer satisfaction since scratched screens are a pain. 
  • New potential designs that utilize Gorilla Glass to deliver sleeker notebooks.

Corning said its research shows that complaint rates for scratched screens on notebooks are four times higher than other mobile devices. Overall, Gorilla Glass NBT will be included on several notebook designs, but the biggest wild card will be PC sales overall.

Yes, touch laptops are nice. Yes, Windows 8.1 may boost sales. And yes, tech buyers are forgoing PCs for tablets. Gorilla Glass NBT is a welcome addition to the PC landscape, but it won't be enough to drive sales, which so far have been anemic.

Nevertheless, analysts are expecting the Gorilla Glass NBT reception to be helpful to sales. Morgan Stanley analyst Elud Gelblum said in a research note Monday that Corning's specialty materials unit, which houses Gorilla Glass, should get "get a material boost from touch notebooks running Windows 8 and new smartphone model launches."

Gelblum expects Gorilla Glass to deliver sales of $1.37 billion in 2013, up 31 percent from 2012, and $1.54 billion in 2014. Gelblum said in a May research note:

2013 is a pivotal year for the cover glass market, as touch notebooks take off on the back of the Windows 8 ramp, sustaining the strong growth Gorilla enjoyed in 2012, and much higher than the 10% y/y revenue growth we have been modeling for this year until now. Indeed, we model touch notebooks driving 45% of the incremental demand for cover glass in 2013 vs. 28% for smartphones and 27% for tablets.