Today, Apple announced in a press release that its going to invest $390 million in Finisar — the manufacturer of the components for the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) in the iPhone X's front-facing TrueDepth camera. This award will come from Apple's $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund, and is part of Apple's pledge to "support innovation and job creation by American manufacturers." The first award from the fund — $200 million — was given to state-of-the-art glass manufacturer Corning Incorporated back in May.
According to the release, the $390 was awarded to Finisar in order to "exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs," which power all the popular (and polarizing) new features of the iPhone X such as Face ID, Animoji, and Portrait Mode selfies. To accomplish this, Finisar plans to convert a long-unused manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas into "the high-tech VCSEL capital of the U.S.," creating over 500 engineering, maintenance, and technical jobs. Hiring, renovations, and equipment planning have already started for the Sherman facility, and the company is expected to begin shipping products in the second half of 2018. The release also assures that the Sherman facility will adhere to Apple's environmental policy, and will "procure enough renewable energy to cover all of its Apple manufacturing in the U.S."
Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer at Apple, expressed the company's enthusiasm for furthering its partnership with Finisar in a statement:
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. 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.
Finisar's CEO Jerry S. Rawls shared in Williams' enthusiasm, indicating that he believes the two companies can achieve their common goals together:
We're excited to continue our innovation with Apple of a technology that has tremendous potential. When you combine our proven ability to consistently manufacture exceptional products with our new state-of-the-art Sherman facility, we're confident we can achieve our shared goal of providing consumers with incredibly exciting features. 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 seems that after the anxiety surrounding limited supplies in the months leading up to the release of the iPhone X, Apple is doing all it can to ensure that production of VCSEL lasers (and thus iPhone Xs and any future Apple products with TrueDepth technology) can be increased without worry when necessary.
What are your thoughts on Apple's most recent investment? Share them with us in the comments!