Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company would create a $1 billion investment fund for advanced manufacturing in the United States. Today, the Cupertino-based tech giant has named the first recipient of that money: Corning Incorporated, the makers of Gorilla Glass and a long-time Apple partner.
The New York-based glassmaker will be receiving $200 million from the Advanced Manufacturing Fund, according to a press release. Reportedly, that money will be put toward the company’s Harrodsburg, Kentucky research and development facility. The partnership makes sense, as Corning and Apple has worked together for nearly a decade. Apple makes up about 5 percent of Corning’s total business, according to one analyst. But Cupertino pointed out that their partnership has created almost 1,000 jobs at Corning — across the company’s R&D, manufacturing and commercial functions departments.
“Corning is a great example of a supplier that has continued to innovate and they are one of Apple’s long-standing suppliers,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said. “This partnership started 10 years ago with the very first iPhone, and today every customer that buys an iPhone or iPad anywhere in the world touches glass that was developed in America.”
Indeed, Apple was the first to push Corning to create a chemically strengthened glass for the very first flagship iPhone. Now, 10 years later, Corning’s Gorilla Glass has become an industry standard — as is used in mobile devices across the globe, not just Apple products. On the other hand, as TechCrunch points out, it’ll be interesting to see how this investment affects Corning’s relationship with its other clients — and Apple competitors — namely Samsung, HTC and LG.
Interestingly, one analyst claims that this investment is a sign that Apple is moving toward wireless charging by way of glass or ceramic back plates for future iPhone models. According to Andrew Uerkwitz, an Oppenheimer analyst, Apple could be counting on the New York company to develop the proper glass or ceramic material for its iPhone 8, CNBC reported.