AuthenTec Said to Cut Off Non-Apple Fingerprint Sensor Customers in 2013
According to Korea's etnews.com [Google translation], fingerprint sensor firm AuthenTec has notified a number of its customers, including Samsung, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Fujitsu, that it will cease offering its technology to those companies as of next year. Apple agreed to acquire AuthenTec in July, and AuthenTec's board is expected to approve the acquisition next month.
AuthenTec's current customers are said to be "in a state of panic" as they seek to secure alternative suppliers for the fingerprint recognition technology that has been seeing increasing adoption. But with AuthenTec holding a significant amount of intellectual property rights in the field, those companies may have difficulty finding adequate alternatives.
Apple has not signaled its exact area of interest for AuthenTec's technology, but many observers have speculated that Apple is interested in incorporating it into its mobile devices for user recognition and other purposes.
The security of fingerprint scanning may also play into longer-term efforts at Apple for developing mobile payment solutions, although the company is said to be deliberately holding back on a public implementation as it explores the competitive landscape and potential. Rumors had suggested that Apple was looking at including near field communications (NFC) in the iPhone 5 in order to facilitate mobile payments integrated with the new Passbook app in iOS 6, but Apple elected not to pursue that technology with this round of iPhone hardware revisions.