Published: Fri, December 15, 2017
Tech | By Constance Martin

Apple plows $390M into Finisar facial recognition, 500+ jobs

Apple plows $390M into Finisar facial recognition, 500+ jobs

The award is part of Apple's pledge to spend its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund investing in us companies engaged in high-tech manufacturing.

500 new jobs Apple said in a feature posted on its own web site that it hoped the support would transform both the Sherman site, which has been idle since 2012 when previous owner Texas Instruments mothballed the facility, and the local area.

Apple said it would buy 10 times more VCSELs in the fourth quarter of 2017 than were previously manufactured world-wide over a similar time period.

The Finisar investment will revive a manufacturing plant in Texas, and should help to create over 500 jobs, according to Apple.

Analysts believe Apple's deal with Finisar means it will be entitled to the production capacity that results."If you're Samsung today, you're thinking, who can do these types of VSCEL arrays?"

Finisar is expected to ship products from the plant starting in the second half of 2018.

Apple uses VCSELs in its new iPhone X to scan your face for its Face ID feature, "portrait mode" photos and Animoji, and in its AirPod earbuds to sense your ears.

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NY state Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking at a news conference near the site, described the device as "amateur-level". The White House said in a statement that President Donald Trump was briefed as the situation unfolded.

"VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we've ever developed", Apple's chief operating officer, Jeff Williams, said in a statement.

Shares of Finisar were up almost 17 percent at $22.50 in premarket trading, while Apple shares were flat. "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". (Apple PR also produced this "feature" report about how the partnership will be "transforming the future of this Texas town.") Apple has also doled out $200 million from the fund to Corning, which supplies glass for iPhones.

"We're excited to continue our innovation with Apple of a technology that has tremendous potential", said Jerry S. Rawls, CEO of Finisar.

It's unclear where those facilities would be located or how many workers would be employed. "We're thrilled that Finisar and Apple will be a part of the Sherman business community", said Sherman Mayor David Plyler. "The city has also adopted a pro-business culture, making Sherman the industry and commerce hub of North Texas".

The deal with Finisar demonstrates Apple's ability to play king-maker among component suppliers.

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