Apple is on an investment free. Shortly after scooping up music recognition app Shazam, it has granted $390 million to Texas-based chip-maker Finisar. The investment, made through Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund, will help Finisar boost production of laser chips that power iPhone X features including Face ID, Animoji, and portrait mode photos. It will also create 500 high-skill jobs in Texas, Apple said in a statement.
Finisar though clarified that the $390 million is a grant, and not an equity investment from Apple. “The amount referred to by Apple represents anticipated future business between the companies over a period of time,” Finisar said in a customary filing. Finisar will utilize the funds to reported a long-shuttered 700,000-square-foot plant, and turn it into a laser chip manufacturing hub in Texas. The vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) that will be produced here are to be used for 3D sensors in AirPods and Apple’s wireless headphones.
“VCSEL technology is a better performing, more compact and cost-efficient solution compared to traditional edge-emitting lasers for many emerging applications… In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured worldwide over a similar time period,” it said in a statement. Finisar is expected to start shipping products from this unit in the second half of 2018. Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that he was “proud” to collaborate with Finisar.
Innovation in the heart of Texas! Proud to team up with @Finisar, the latest recipient from our Advanced Manufacturing Fund. Their new site will create hundreds of jobs building iPhone components in Sherman, Tex.https://t.co/SYgP3VvIgr
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) December 13, 2017
This partnership with Finisar could have stemmed from the fact that Apple was finding it difficult to source depth sensors prior to the launch of the iPhone X. And as a result, the iPhone X was in short supply and unable to keep up with, what it called, “off the charts” demand. This is also similar to Apple’s $200 million grant to Corning that has been making glass panels for Apple iPhones and iPods for years. It is also said to be developing lenses for Apple’s upcoming AR glasses.