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Advanced manufacturing will get a $1B boost from Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company will create a $1 billion fund to support advanced manufacturing in the U.S. He said Apple will announce its first investment later this month.

“We asked ourselves ‘How can we get more people to do advanced manufacturing in the United States?'” Cook said on CNBC’s “Mad Money” program. “We’ve talked to a company that we’re going to invest in.”

Cook did not name the company, or say whether it was an American firm. Earlier this year, Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, discussed possible plans to build a U.S. manufacturing facility in partnership with Apple. Apple reportedly wants to invest because the facility will make smartphone displays. Last year Foxconn acquired Sharp, a leading maker of smartphone and TV display panels.

Japan’s SoftBank is also expected to be an investor in Foxconn’s potential U.S. factory. SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son is creating a $50 billion technology investment fund, in which Apple is an investor. According to Japan’s Nikkei news service, Son proposed the Foxconn factory in the United States.

Smartphone displays are probably not the only reason Apple decided to invest in advanced manufacturing. Factory automation is a big potential market for Apple, which now develops its own processors and is investing in other chip manufacturers.

Automation is a growth area for Apple as smartphone sales level off. Last month Apple agreed to buy a startup that specializes in software for task automation. Apple’s Workflow purchase was seen by some as confirmation that the company remains focused on automation despite the departure of Sal Saghoian, the executive who formerly led Apple’s efforts in this area.

Image source: Ideanco

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