Applied Materials is a "major capital equipment producer serving the Semiconductor, TFT LCD Display, Glass, WEB and Solar manufacturing industries." Well, it seems like the scales are starting to tip towards solar manufacturing. They've acquired about $1 billion worth of solar firms lately, including HCT Shaping Systems from Switzerland for $483 million last August and now Italy’s Baccini, a maker of metallization and testing equipment for photovoltaic solar cell production (they've been working on solar tech for 40 years!) for $334 million. The company said it plans to cut the production costs for crystalline silicon cell and thin film modules while also reduce the grams-per-watt usage of silicon material.
Analysts see the company’s solar foray as a promising area of growth. Mark Fitzgerald, analyst at Banc of America Securities, previously predicted that the company’s solar revenue could reach $1.2 billion in 2009 [and $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion annually by 2010]. Applied is also spending money on solar through its venture capital arm, Applied Ventures, which has invested in several solar-related startups. Those include solar monitoring company Fat Spaniel, silicon solar wafer company Solaicx, and organic solar cell developers Plextronics.
The faster we can reduce the costs of solar power below the costs of dirty power, the better. See this video about the future of the solar industry for (much) more details.
::Applied Materials buys Italian solar gear maker, ::Applied Materials Buys Italian Solar Equipment Maker for $334M, ::Applied Materials To Install 1.9 MW Solar Capacity, ::Applied Materials Outdoing Google's Solar Project