This is interesting. Apple has just forked out US$365-million for security company AuthenTec Inc.
In an 8-k filing the company says that it entered into an agreement with the Cupertino-based tech giant that gives Apple non-exclusive domain over its hardware, software, and patent portfolios.
The company, which specialises in fingerprinting technology, also does work in secure networking, content and data protection. According to its Fact Sheet:
AuthenTec’s award-winning smart fingerprint sensors provide multiple touch-powered features that extend beyond user authentication to include convenience, personalization and touch control. The Company’s TouchChip area fingerprint sensors and modules comply with government and industry standards and offer the ruggedness, strong security and ease of integration needed for quick and broad deployment. TouchChip sensors dramatically lower the size, cost and power of fingerprint sensors versus optical-based fingerprint solutions.
The company is a favourite of Apple arch-rival Samsung and is also used by the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Fujitsu, HBO, HP, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Sky, and Texas Instruments.
It’s at this point that Apple’s corporate heads are rubbing their hands in glee. The deal effectively means that it hasn’t just got its hands on a load of new technology but that it can sell that it all back to its fiercest rivals.
According to ZDNet, AuthenTec has been steadily moving its focus to business and sees mobile security as a big money spinner in the future, especially as the bring your own device phenomenon becomes more widespread.
As Craig Hallum analyst Richard Shanon explains, mobile manufacturers are well aware of the trend and are desperate to make sure they have a safe offering to present to big corporates:
We see Samsung’s interest in mobile enterprise access as a microcosm for a secular trend in the mobile marketplace as customers look to access enterprise resources not just from company-supplied laptops, but from employee-owned phones/tablets. Over the next several quarters, we expect to see Samsung, along with other OEMs, carriers and other ecosystems participants, increasingly view the enterprise as a valuable market segment and one that needs improved security.
Apple wouldn’t want to miss out on this opportunity either and the acquisition of AuthenTec means it’ll profit no matter which mobile manufacturer a company chooses to go with.