Apple Doubles Down on Proximity Sensing Tech with #390M Finisar Investment


San Francisco: As part of its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund to support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers, Apple has invested $390 million in optical communication component manufacturer Finisar whose technology has made the iPhone's Face ID feature viable.

But it's also clearly not putting all its eggs in one basket: Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund, from which the Finsar investment is drawn, is spreading over one billion dollars across various USA -based technology manufacturers.

The investment will enable Apple to "get better supply and better pricing, and it makes it more hard for Android phones to compete", said Gene Munster, a longtime Apple watcher at Loup Ventures. In the months leading up to the iPhone X's release, the corporation struggled to meet Apple's demand for hardware for the device's front-facing TrueDepth camera, and had to be dropped from the company's roster of manufacturers. The company plans to create more than 500 "high-skill jobs" at this facility, Apple said, including engineers, technicians, and maintenance teams.

Apple said it would buy 10 times more VCSELs in the fourth quarter of 2017 than were previously manufactured world-wide over a similar time period.

Apple has big plans for proximity sensing technology in its products because it just invested US$390 million in VCSEL laser maker Finisar.

An Apple-supplied image shows a Finisar factory.   Apple
An Apple-supplied image shows a Finisar factory. Apple

Finisar is reopening a facility in Texas that Apple says will help create 500 new jobs.

Shares of Finisar Corp. leapt nearly 30 percent at the opening bell. "Consistent with Apple's commitment to the environment, the company intends to procure enough renewable energy to cover all of its Apple manufacturing in the U.S.".

"VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we've ever developed and we're thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable", Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said in a statement.

Finisar is not the first company to benefit from the fund - that honour went to Corning, which makes the durable Gorilla Glass displays that feature on many phones. "Finisar has always been keenly aware it takes great people to power our work and that's why we're thrilled to be adding Sherman to our family".

It's not unusual for Apple to finance its suppliers.

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