Apple is beefing up its security prowess with the purchase of AuthenTec, a small security company focused on fingerprint sensors and identity management.
On Friday, AuthenTec indicated in an 8-K regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, that they agreed to be acquired by Apple for $356 million. Apple's $8-a-share offer is a 58 percent premium over the stock's Thursday closing price of $5.07.
Why would Apple want AuthenTec? ZDNet's Larry Dignan provided two reasons. First, Apple is increasingly focused on iPhones and iPads being adopted in the enterprise. Improving the security of their devices is seen as key to this process. Second, AuthenTec licenses its technology to several smartphone and computer manufactures, such as Samsung, Lenovo, Nokia, and Motorola. Apple may not have wanted a rival to buy the company.
Regardless of Apple's exact reasons for buying AuthenTec, the purchase could pave the way for fingerprint sensors on future iPhones, iPads, and Macs. In 2010, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from AuthenTec for a "Finger Sensor Having Remote Web Based Notifications". Using this technology, users could log in to a Web site or make an online purchase, by swiping their finger instead of entering a password.
It's possible Apple won't do anything with AuthenTec's fingerprint tech and instead focus on the their identity management and embedded security products. But that seems unlikely, given that fingerprint sensors are AuthenTec's core business.
iPhone 6 users could very well be unlocking their phones and making iTunes purchases with a swipe of their finger.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.