Apple has announced its intention to invest $200 million in glass manufacturer Corning. The investment is part of the tech giant’s plan to invest $1 billion in American high-tech manufacturing jobs.
The investment is intended to support Corning research and development efforts, capital equipment needs, and advanced glass processing capabilities.
Corning has worked with Apple for a decade as a supplier of glass for the iPhone.
The last time Apple invested in the glass business was its partnership with GT Advanced Technologies. In 2014 Apple financed production facilities at GT in an effort to create synthetic sapphire iPhone screens.
The investment made sense on paper. Sapphire screens would be a great market differentiator for the iPhone, and GT needed funds to scale up its production facilities to manufacture synthetic sapphires large enough to serve as screens. The companies quickly cut a deal.
Alas, when it came time to build phones, GT wasn’t able to meet demand with high-quality screens in sufficient quantity.
That, perhaps, is why Apple is investing a bit more conservatively this time around. Corning has been making glass a long, long time, and it can use Apple’s $200 million to make incremental improvements in Gorilla Glass. It’s not as exciting as phones made of synthetic sapphires, but it’s a sound investment.