An administrative assistant at a top U.S. brokerage firm that handles Intel and Apple’s ocean/air accounts has informed the iPhone 5 News Blog that “something big is about to happen.” The source provided me with the address and telephone number of where she works, and I was able to call and verify her employment at the brokerage firm.
“Recently my team and I have been getting A LOT of protocol from Apple lately, and I can tell you there is something big getting ready to happen. Whether or not it’s the iPhone I’m not at liberty to say, but the paperwork has definately beefed up, and I’m positive it’s not MacBooks or iPads.
Nothing has been flown out, but they are definately getting everything in order for customs and the FCC, I can tell you that.”
The “protocol” that the source is referring to is the routine in which a particular business runs and sets up its paperwork before going to audit or customs. UPS, in addition to being one of the world’s top delivery companies, is also is the world’s largest brokerage firm, which means that they assist big companies with their shipments that come for overseas and handle their accounts as well as helping customs.
Basically anything that you order that comes from overseas goes through UPS brokerage firm and then onto customs and then finally to your door.
I also asked about the reference to the FCC. The source explained that “everything that comes from overseas gets labeled either from the FDA or FCC. Most electronics are FCC, while all food is FDA.”
Our new source’s job is to scan paperwork into the computer systems and verify them for customs and auditing. She also works in data entry, preparing documentation from big business such as Intel and Apple, whose shipments frequently come from overseas. she went on to explain in subsequent e-mails:
“I recently came into contact with some green folders (means they go straight to Cupertino itself) with unidentified units, 14 of them to be exact, as I’ve said before I’m not at liberty to go into detail but if they’re going to headquarters I can only believe that they might be testers.”
I asked her further about what “green folders” and “unidentified units” meant, and she went on to explain:
“By ‘units’ I mean the documentation for them. I handle no actual products — just their documentation. Green and red folders are high level security clearance folders, instead of the usual manilla that are used. Green and red folders are faxed to Cupertino. They aren’t shipping folders, but they contain the documentation of the shipments by Apple, such as emails from their coporate offices to the factory, invoices etc…we then get that ready to go to customs.”
Obviously, a claim like this is far from a smoking gun, and the sole compelling component of the rumor is the fact that I was able to verify the source’s identity and position at UPS. Also, my ongoing discussions with her, and the ability to explain her job at UPS’ brokerage firm and the process by which companies like Apple ship documentation into and out of the country is viable.
The story, however, is not corroborated by photos or scans of any actual documents, and based on what the source told me, the most secretive documents never make reference to unreleased products by name — only by codes which she said sometimes are easy to decode, while others are not.
Finally, I asked her repeatedly about how she said she was “not at liberty to say” what the Apple documents revealed to her, seeking clarification as to whether she really meant that she “Cannot say” because she is not sure. However, she reiterated that, “she is not at liberty to say,” and repeated that the documents she has worked on reveal something other than new MacBooks or tablets.
Whether or not this information is proof that the iPhone 5 and/or iTV is coming to the WWDC in June, no one can tell. But after confirming the identity of the source, I thought it was something that people who follow iPhone 5 rumors would least want to read about.
Liquidmetal Inventor: Apple Will Use It In A 'Breakthrough Product'
We've been hearing a lot about Liquidmetal lately, mostly because of rumors that Apple could be using the alloy in its next iPhone.
But what exactly is Liquidmetal? What makes it so special that Apple decided to license the rights to use it in its products?
Better yet, why hasn't Apple used it in gadgets yet, even though it's had the rights to the alloy since 2010?
We decided to get those answers straight from the source. Atakan Peker is one of the inventors of the Liquidmetal alloy and we had a chance to to talk to him about its future in mobile gadgets.
If you don't have time to read the full interview, here's what you need to know:
Liquidmetal looks great, yet is incredibly strong and durable.
Apple has exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal in gadgets.
It could be a few more years before Apple can make a Liquidmetal MacBook.
Apple will likely wait to use Liquidmetal in a "breakthrough product."
Now Read Our Q&A With Dr. Peker:
What is Liquidmetal?
Let me first note the following: Liquidmetal is the trade name for a new class of metallic alloys. The alloys have a unique atomic structure, more like glass, and are commonly known as “bulk metallic glasses” or “bulk amorphous alloys."
What was your role in Liquidmetal's development?
I discovered and developed original alloy formulations during my PhD thesis with Professor Johnson at Caltech. Subsequently, I worked on the commercial manufacturing, scale-up process, and application development.
How long did it take to perfect Liquidmetal?
I would not say Liquidmetal was perfected. 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.
Can you explain, in simple terms, the benefits of Liquidmetal in gadgets like phones, tablets, and laptops?
Liquidmetal is super strong, scratch and corrosion resistant, resilient and can be precision cast into complex shapes. The benefits will be in the form of strong and aesthetic structural components, such as casing and frames.
What does Liquidmetal look like?
At first look, it looks like a typical metal, more like stainless steel. It's silvery grey metallic color has a bit different tone and hue than stainless steel. Depending on the specific alloy formulation, its hue may vary slightly. Its surface can be prepared in various cosmetic finishes, such as bright shiny, satin or brush metallic. It feels like a solid strong metal like stainless steel and comes a bit warmer to hand when touching compared to other metals.
How does Liquidmetal compare to the metal, glass, and plastic used in mobile devices now?
Each material has its own advantage and disadvantages. Plastics are low cost to manufacture into complex shapes but not strong enough. Metals are strong but difficult to produce into complex shapes. And glass feels and looks beautiful but is highly fragile. Liquidmetal can combine these advantages and remedy some of these shortcomings.
Are you aware of how Apple has used Liquidmetal so far?
The first application was SIM card ejector pin [as first reported by Cult of Mac], which I figured out after buying my iPhone 3G. I am not aware of any other application Apple has used Liquidmetal so far.
I've heard rumors that future MacBooks from Apple could use Liquidmetal casing, what would that be like? Is it likely to happen?
Given the size of MacBook and scale of Apple products, I think it's unlikely that Liquidmetal casing will be used in MacBooks in the near term. It's more likely in the form of small component such as a hinge or bracket. A MacBook casing, such as a unibody, will take two to four more years to implement.
Do you know of any other electronic companies that have the rights to use Liquidmetal? If so, how are they using it or how do you think they will use it?
There were electronic companies who used Liquidmetal in the past. Two notable examples are Nokia and Samsung flip phones.
There is still interest from various electronic companies to use Liquidmetal in electronic devices. Although Apple has exclusively licensed Liquidmetal’s technology, I think they will find a way to use this technology as it gets mature.
Is there anything else relating to mobile gadgets and Liquidmetal that you think people should know about?
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.