In light of the iPhone 5S' inclusion of a sapphire home button (with an embedded fingerprint sensor), Canaccord predicts sapphire prices will rise further, something that stands to benefit equipment supplier GT Advanced (GTAT +8.2%) and wafer maker Rubicon (RBCN +5.3%).
Meanwhile, Digitimes reports the upcoming 5th-gen iPad and retina iPad Mini will also have sapphire home buttons (not surprising), and (more intriguingly) states Apple will "possibly" use a sapphire touch screen in a 2014 iPhone (presumably the iPhone 6).
Digitimes, which has been hit-and-miss with product feature rumors, notes Apple recently submitted a patent filing for sapphire layer lamination. However, it also observes the cost of sapphire cover glass remains up to 5x that of existing solutions, such as Corning's (GLW +1.9%) Gorilla Glass.
GT Advanced has been promising the development of sapphire furnaces able to make larger crystals will narrow the pricing gap between sapphire and Gorilla Glass.
Sapphire glass is thinner and reportedly 3x stronger/scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass. However, Corning has been improving the scratch-resistance of the latter, and has criticized sapphire's weight and optical qualities.