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.