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Flexy 'iWatch' glass said to be three years away

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If you're jonesing to slap down a chunk o' change for a flexible Apple iWatch, you've got plenty of time to save up – products using the requisite flexy glass won't appear until 2016.

According to Apple's all-but-certain iPhone glass supplier, Corning, companies won't start manufacturing products using their flexible Willow glass for at least three years, reports Bloomberg.

"People are not accustomed to glass you roll up," James Clappin, the president of Corning Glass Technologies (CGT), said in an interview. "The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited."

CGT is the division of glass, ceramic, plastic, and equipment–maker Corning that manufactures Gorilla Glass, the hardened material used in a wide variety of mobile devices.

Oh-so-secretive Apple is not listed among Gorilla Glass customers, but the company notes that "Due to customer agreements, we cannot identify all devices that feature Gorilla Glass," and the evidence that one of those unnamed devices is the iPhone is rather strong. At minimum, CGT is likely supplying Apple with a glass that is, shall we say, simian-like.

A three-year wait for flexible Willow glass would mean that the fanbois fervor engendered by the US Patent and Trademark Office's recent publication of an Apple flexible, snap-on "iWatch" patent application will need to be put on hold for a couple of years.

Simple products made from Willow glass, however, will likely begin to appear as early as this year, Corning CFO James Flaws has said, and CGT sent product samples to manufacturers of phones, tablets, and televisions last June.

But turning Willow into a flexible display that can snap around your wrist, as the aforementioned iWatch patent requires, will take some time. Until then, if you're dying for an Apple wristwatch, you still have the rumor that Apple and Foxconn are collaborating on a curved watch – and those rumors didn't mention snap-on flexibility.

Then there's the iWatch rumor from a Chinese source that referred to an Apple watch with an OLED display, and made nary a mention of flexibility.

Or it's even possible that Apple has a secret sweetheart deal with CGT, and will beat all other device manufacturers to the flexy-glass punch. If that's the case, you might be able to snap an iWatch onto your wrist before 2016.

Maybe. As is ever the case with things Cupertinian, it's up to you, dear reader, to pick the rumor that you wish to believe. ®

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