Apple Buys Fingerprint Sensor Maker AuthenTec to Strengthen iPad and iPhone

In a surprise move, Apple has purchased mobile security company AuthenTec for $365 million.  This  comes just weeks after mobile security company AuthenTec signed a deal with Samsung to cover security and management services for Android devices.

Apple’s acquisition of the company coupled with comments made by CEO Tim Cook earlier this week during the Q2 results report indicate that they are intending to expand their influence in mobile enterprise as the iPhone and iPad sales numbers to Fortune 500 companies continue to rise rapidly.

Among other products, AuthenTec manufactures embeddable fingerprint sensors used for security and identification purposes.  The company has mostly flown under the radar, but as it has shifted its focus to the mobile enterprise market it has gained more attention.  Apple’s purchase price at $8 per share is a 60% premium over AuthenTec’s current market value of $5.07 per share, although when it went public the company had raised about $600 million in funding so it’s not an unreasonable valuation.

The 8-K filed yesterday with the SEC does include some details regarding intellectual property agreements between Apple and AuthenTec, notably that Apple is paying $20 million in an intellectual property and tech agreement to “acquire non-exclusive licenses and certain other rights with respect to hardware technology, software technology and patents of the Company.”   Apple is also paying an additional $7.5 million for product development work, and will own any resulting new intellectual property.

It is unclear whether Apple intends to continue existing agreements signed by AuthenTec, including the Samsung deal, or if they will use this acquisition as a way of keeping its competitors from having access to the technology.

This acquisition may also be a hint of plans to expand into the mobile wallet market, but nothing has been announced yet.   We will just have to wait and see what Apple does with the company, but this move signals that they are likely intending to move forward in the development of new hardware and software additions that will strengthen the security of the iPhone and iPad.

[via TechCrunch and ZDNet]

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About Jenni: Jenni is a healthy-living food blogger who rarely lets her iPad leave her side. Find her on Twitter @spoonfulatatime.