In an interview with Business Insider, LiquidMetal inventor Atakan Peker has stated that he thinks Apple will use the technology for a ‘breakthrough product’, in other words, more than likely not the iPhone 5. While Peker does not have any specific inside information, he is probably as good as anyone in terms of predicting when Liquidmetal will come into play, also stating that it was ‘unlikely’ that Liquidmetal would be used in MacBooks.
Peker also confirmed that Apple did already produce a Liquidmetal product – the SIM card ejector pin – something which he ‘figured out after buying his iPhone 3G’. Discussing the general use of Liquidmetal in mobile gadgets:
I expect Liquidmetal application in two ways: First evolutionary substitution of current materials and secondly, and more importantly, in a breakthrough product made only possible by Liquidmetal technology. Apple’s exclusively licensing a new material technology (specifically for casing and enclosures) is a first in the industry.
This is very exciting. Therefore, I expect Apple to use this technology in a breakthrough product. Such product will likely bring an innovative user interface and industrial design together, and will also be very difficult to copy or duplicate with other material technologies.
So while, according to this interview, Apple might not pull the trigger on Liquidmetal just yet, it is something very possible for the future, and has already been experimented with numerous times by tech companies. However, Apple does have exclusive rights to it in tech products, so Samsung and co will have to come up with something else if they want to compete with it.
Of course, Peker also noted that Apple is unlikely to use LiquidMetal in major products for a few more years:
This is a technology that has yet to be matured and perfected both in manufacturing process and application development. I should note that this is a completely new and different metal technology. Therefore, there is no suitable manufacturing infrastructure yet to take full advantage of this alloy technology.
For example, 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 used in large scale.
Even so, it’s an exciting new material, and I’ll be excited to see it being used extensively in Apple products once the time is right.