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Aadhyan Vaka, 6, of Plainsboro, N.J., reacts while playing with the animoji feature of the new iPhone X at the Apple Union Square store Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in San Francisco. Photo: Eric Risberg / AP

By putting nearly $400 million into Finisar, Apple is returning to a familiar and highly successful page in its playbook.

Why it matters: Finisar makes a key depth sensor for augmented reality, known as a VCSEL, used on the iPhone X. The move could help Apple expand use of the technology while limiting competitors' options.

The big picture: Though Apple has shied away from big acquisitions, the company has long been willing to spend significant money to lock down supply of a key component. Back in the iPod days, Apple managed to essentially freeze out rivals, first by controlling supply of the core tiny hard drive, and later by assuring favorable pricing and supply of flash memory.

For context, Apple expects to buy 10 times more VCSELs in Q4 2017 than were made globally in Q4 2016, so it needs to boost supply.

Loup Ventures' Gene Munster noted that history seems to be repeating itself.:

"Apple now has close relationships with the two leading VCSEL suppliers, Lumentum and Finisar," Munster said in a research note. "Given how capacity constrained both these companies are, Apple's investment shows the company is yet again doubling down on augmented reality. But more importantly, it locks down VCSEL supply, which will make it tough for other smartphone players to compete longer-term in AR."— Gene Munster

A source tells Axios that this is not an equity investment. That's why Apple's press release refers to it as an "award," and reflects how its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund is much more of a strategic platform than a financial one.

Go deeper

Pelosi announces bid for re-election ahead of 2022 midterms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her bid for re-election Tuesday, amid a deluge of other safe-seat Democrats announcing their retirements.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s announcement follows months of speculation — despite her denials — that she was preparing to leave Congress.

Scoop: Qatar emir to visit White House on Monday

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, leaves the White House after meeting President Trump in 2019. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The emir of Qatar will meet with President Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss Afghanistan as well as contingency plans to provide natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Europe's reliance on Russia for 40% of its natural gas is undermining Biden's attempts to coordinate "massive" sanctions to be imposed from both sides of the Atlantic if Russia invades. The White House wants Qatar to help ensure European countries can enforce tough sanctions without risking an energy crisis.

Biden: There won't be "American forces moving into Ukraine"

President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that he does not foresee U.S. troops moving into Ukraine.

Why it matters: Biden's comments come as tensions between Russia and Ukraine persist, and a Russian invasion of Ukraine appears increasingly likely.

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