Apple is dipping into its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund and awarding $390 million to Finisar, a leading manufacturer of optical communications components, the company announced today. With that massive cash infusion, Finisar will be able to exponentially increase its research and development spending, along with its high volume production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) that power some of the features on Apple's iPhone X enabled by its TrueDepth camera.
"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," said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
Image Source: Apple
Depth-sensing technology is a major point of focus right now, by Apple and its competitors. Apple favors VSCEL as a "better performing" solution compared to edge-emitting lasers found in many emerging applications. VSCEL is also more compact and cost efficient.
Apple also said it was motivated by its commitment to support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers. It seems Apple is hoping to highlight a different aspect of its supply side operations, which is currently dominated by workers in China. Foxconn, otherwise known as Hon Hai Precision, pieces together many of Apple's products on a mass scale.
"Technology is only as good as the people behind it, and Finisar is a company with a long history of putting its employees first and supporting the community it’s a part of. We’re extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse," Williams added.
Finisar will use the $390 investment in part to repurpose a 700,000 square-foot manufactured plant in Sherman, Texas, that was shut down a long time ago. Apple and Finisar envision the plant becoming the "VCSEL capital of the US." It will create more than 500 high-skill jobs, with a need to hire engineers, technicians, and maintenance teams. Combined with Finisar's nearby plant in Allen, Texas, the company's payroll in Northern Texas will be around $65 million.
As for Apple, the company says it now supports 2 million jobs across all 50 states, including 450,000 jobs that are the result of its spend and investment with US-based suppliers.
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