Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth: Apple just bought up a 3-year supply of sapphire displays

As Canonical co-founder Mark Shuttleworth revealed the latest news about Ubuntu’s mobile plans on Wednesday, he also dropped an interesting aside remark about Apple(s aapl).
“Apple just snapped up the entire 3-year supply of the same sapphire display we wanted for the Edge,” Shuttleworth said on a conference call. This is a reference to the Ubuntu Edge, a flagship handset for the mobile device that broke crowdfunding records but ultimately failed to meet its target, so it never got made. We’ve heard similar reports earlier this month that estimated that Apple had bought enough supply for 200 million sapphire iPhone screens.
Ubuntu smartphone Galaxy Nexus
What’s interesting is that the Edge was to have a 4.5-inch display. The current iPhone 5s has a 4-inch display that is more elongated than the more traditional proportions of what would have been the Edge’s screen.
To confuse matters further, rumors are currently floating around of Apple buying sapphire displays but at a size of 5.6 inches, for a phablet-style device that won’t use the iPhone branding. So in that context, Shuttleworth’s very clear assertion doesn’t make much sense, but it’s probably worth noting nonetheless.
Apple also uses sapphire for its Touch ID sensor and if it is going to make sapphire displays, they’ll likely be produced in Phoenix, Arizona, where Apple recently invested $578 million in a solar-powered production facility.
Apple is expected by some to offer an iPhone later this year with a screen between 4.5- and 4.7 inches, although that display is not expected to use sapphire; instead, it would use Corning’s(s glw) Gorilla Glass like the current iPhone does.