Apple’s upcoming flagship iPhone will be announced in September before shipping in October, and will spearhead Cupertino’s increased efforts in the augmented and virtual reality spheres, according to recent comments made by a reported Apple supplier.
Finisar, a Sunnyvale, California-based supplier of optical communication components, announced in an earnings call Thursday that it expects one company to account for millions of units of a specialized depth-mapping laser, Axios reported. While Finisar didn’t mention Apple by name, venture capital firm Loup Ventures wrote in a research note on Friday that it believes Apple to be the unnamed mystery customer. It’s worth noting that Finisar is, in fact, not on Apple’s official 2017 list of suppliers — but Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster said that Finisar’s comments “all but ensure that they will be one of two or three suppliers of … lasers for the high-end version of the next iPhone.”
While Finisar will ship “millions” of lasers during the October quarter, the company added that they anticipate unit shipments in the “10s of millions” in subsequent quarters. By now, we all know that Apple is certainly a company that spurs this type of demand from its suppliers when it releases a new flagship — so Finisar’s announcement hints at a high-profile customer very much along the lines of Cupertino.
Beyond suggesting a release timeline, Finisar’s comments also potentially reveal something else: that Apple is going to double-down on augmented reality technology for its premium iPhone X. The laser that Finisar will be supplying is reportedly a high-end type called a vertical-cavity, surface-emitting laser (VCSEL), which could “enrich the augmented reality experience” on the next iPhone. According to Munster’s research note, 3D sensing and AR/VR applications will likely be “focus features” in the upcoming generation of iPhones. And, taken in context with the release of ARKit, Munster believes Apple is positioning itself to be a leader in the burgeoning technology.
The iPhone X, of course, has long been rumored to feature advanced 3D sensing, depth-mapping and augmented reality systems. Renowned KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted early this year that the iPhone X will carry a “revolutionary” optics upgrade. And just a few days ago, Apple supplier Largan Precision announced that its 3D sensor modules will be ready to ship in time for the iPhone X’s unveiling — and some believe Apple will be the only company this year to release a flagship with such a suite of features.