Apple reportedly buying fingerprint authentication company AuthenTec

Apple has reportedly agreed to by AuthenTec, a company that specializes in fingerprint authentication technology, for $350 million, or 58% over market value on Thursday. Saabira Chaduri of the Wall Street Journal says:

Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., didn't disclose its intentions for the technology. AuthenTec said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it "cannot comment on Apple's intentions" for the company.

On their website, AuthenTec describes themselves as:

AuthenTec is a leading provider of mobile and network security. Our diverse product and technology offering helps protect individuals and organizations through secure networking, content and data protection, access control and strong fingerprint security on PCs and mobile devices.AuthenTec encryption technology, fingerprint sensors and identity management software are deployed by the leading mobile device, networking and computing companies, content and service providers, and governments worldwide. AuthenTec’s products and technologies provide security on hundreds of millions of devices, and the Company has shipped more than 100 million fingerprint sensors for integration in a wide range of portable electronics including over 15 million mobile phones.

Their Mobile Smart Sensors page, AuthenTec talks about their smartphone offering:

AuthenTec smart sensors enhance the touch-powered features of today’s mobile phones and other wireless devices by giving users precise cursor positioning, menu navigation, turbo scrolling, and full touchpad emulation as well as effortless security via the simple swipe of a finger. Smart sensors further contribute to their value by adding personalization features, or the ability to associate different mobile phone applications or functions with different fingers. Mobile wallet purchases can also be authenticated using smart sensors, enhancing the security of mobile commerce (m-commerce) transactions made via the phones.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is listed as using the AuthenTec VPN client, HBO Go as using their DRM, and more.

AuthenTec also offers mobile payment security angle at play as well. Hmmm....

Apple had $117 billion in the bank as of Q3 2012, so $350 million isn't much more than a rounding error. How Apple chooses to use AuthenTec technology in future products is the more interesting story. Anyone case to speculate?

Swipe will start reading your fingerprint before it lets you unlock?

Source: Wall Street Journal

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Apple is going to make a boat load of cash off Samsung's deal with this company. But won't the SEC have questions about the timing of this acquisition, given the patent litigation between Samsung and Apple?
  • Re: "... the ability to associate different mobile phone applications or functions with different fingers. " Wow. Never thought of that. Different fingers for different swipe semantics. That's only possible when you can quickly differentiate fingerprints.
  • I'm sure some of this technology will show up in the iPhone 5s and future iPads. I remember when Apple bought that mapping company a while back and that technology is in iOS6. This is why I always skip a iPhone and iPad version.
  • Pretty much to add biometric authentication to the mix and marry it with the secure ID in the device's NFC chip. This applies as much to the Mac as it does to the mobile devices. This way, you can use your iPhone to pay via NFC and use biometric authentication to confirm it's you and not someone with a stolen phone.