On Monday, Tim Cook, Apple’s boss, went out of his way to single out a small French company that was involved with innovative features in the latest iPhones ahead of meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, who has ordered for a tougher line on technology company taxes.
Apple’s chief executive paid a surprise visit to Eldim, a Normandy-based firm that has tested the optical technology that was used in the facial recognition system inside new top-of-the-range iPhone X smartphones due to be released next month. Prices of the said iPhone start at $999.
Face ID, as the new iPhone X feature is known, will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone and is featured in the campaign of Apple to distinguish the phone from its rival devices.
“Bravo for your work!”, said Cook on his official Twitter account in French. A picture of him talking with employees of Eldim was also posted.
Cook later met with Macron, who has ordered Apple and other tech companies including Amazon.com to pay more taxes in Europe.
“Bravo to Europe for acting with determination to get tax rules and justice respected,” said Macron in a tweet last week that was applauding European Union officials for bringing member-state Ireland to court to reclaim 13 billion euros (11.6 billion pounds) worth of back taxes from Apple.
A French presidency official said that Macron and Cook did not dwell on the past and described the discussions about regulating digital platforms and tax policy as forward-looking and constructive.
When asked if they had talked about France’s proposal to tax the revenue of large tech companies and not profit, the Macron adviser replied: “They didn’t go into specifics.”
“The tone was very open. This wasn’t a posturing competition. Tech giants were under pressure from shareholders worried about reputational damage over how the companies arrange their taxes,” added the official.
Eldim which is located outside Caen, near the northern coast of France, had collaborated with Apple on research projects for almost a decade before receiving recognition for its optical work on behalf of Apple, the most highly valued company of the world.
“They (Eldim) certainly have a top-notch technology,” said industry analyst Thomas Husson of Forrester Research. “Facial recognition is one of iPhone X’s differentiating features.”
Apple is usually highly secretive regarding the suppliers that it uses to develop new computers, phones, and other devices.
A spokeswoman for Apple refused to comment.
STMicroelectronics, a Franco-Italian chipmaker which is one of Europe’s larger technology companies, is popularly understood to be a supplier of the sensors for the Apple iPhone 7 and the forthcoming iPhone devices but is restricted by Apple from saying so.