Apple spends top dollar to ensure smooth future production of Face ID-enabling lasers


Apple has gone on a bit of a spending spree again, more than three years after splashing a record $3 billion on Beats Electronics, and following a massive 2016 investment in Chinese Uber rival Didi Chuxing.

In addition to the tech titan’s almost routine acquisitions of small but ambitious companies specialized in very particular fields of development, a substantial $200 million was contributed to Corning’s ongoing glass innovations back in May, followed by a $400 million purchase of Shazam’s successful music recognition business earlier this week.

Another $390 million now goes to Sherman, Texas, where Finisar, a “leading manufacturer of optical communications components”, will significantly ramp up production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers.

Also known as VCSELs, these are the magical components that make iPhone X tricks like Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies possible, in cooperation with the TrueDepth camera system and other super-advanced parts.

The problem is there are nowhere near enough factories around the world dedicated to the manufacturing of these high-performance, ultra-compact, and cost-efficient lasers, which is why Apple is taking matters into its own hands.

No more relying on third-party suppliers for a key piece of the next-gen iPhone feature puzzle, and no more importing VCSELs from abroad. Finisar is committed to spending the $390 million awarded from the same Advanced Manufacturing Fund as the Corning investment on turning Sherman, Texas into the “high-tech VCSEL capital of the US”, creating over 500 high-skill jobs at a revamped long-shuttered 700,000-square-foot local plant.

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About The Author
Adrian Diaconescu
Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).