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AuthenTec Sells Off Embedded Security Systems, Leaving FingerPrint Technology for Apple

NFCWorld reports that AuthenTec has sold off its Embedded Security Solutions (ESS) division to a company called Inside Secure for $48 million, leaving Apple with its fingerprint sensors and identity management assets.
Authentec's Embedded Security Solutions (ESS) division designs, develops and sells a range of embedded security solutions, centered on the use of encryption algorithms and security blocks to protect data and ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability.
TechCrunch suggests one of the reasons for the sell off of this non-core technology is to avoid any regulatory hurdles in the AuthenTec acquisition.
If the initial Reuters report of the acquisition remains accurate, it recoups investment on parts of the business which aren’t essential to Apple’s plans. It also ensures that once any deal is finalized, there will be less to worry about in terms of Apple gaining undue control over tech essential to the securing of its competitors products, which might raise red flags with regulators
Apple had been reported to have acquired AuthenTech back in July for $356 million. Speculation had already claimed that Apple was primarily interested in AuthenTec's fingerprint scanning technology for future devices. Several current customers of AuthenTec's fingerprint sensors were already been forced to quickly look for alternative suppliers.

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90 months ago

Embedded Security Solutions ( (ESS) division to a company called Inside Secure for $48 million...

Read that as "Insecure".
Rating: 5 Votes
90 months ago

... the only end effect would be that nobody else can use it in consumer electronics until the license expires. We don't actually know.

The Apple license acquired perpetual exclusive consumer electronics rights to any technology created or acquired by Liquidmetal up to at least February 2014.

Evidence from people I know pointed to Apple working on multitouch research as far back as 2000, leading up to the Fingerworks acquisition.

Quite possible, considering multitouch dates back to the early 80s.

Most of the details, they obviously didn't want to tell me. If you were to tell me in 2006 that buying out Fingerworks was just to bury it, I'd be sad and probably nod in agreement because there's little other evidence. But in reality, their tech got rolled into a project that shipped after 6+ years of development.

People repeat this all the time, yet I can't think of one Fingerworks patent that got used in iOS. Or even close. As a Fingerworks founder noted when asked about this, their company was about opaque items, not transparent touchscreens.

But something else that bothers me is that while we've heard that other manufacturers have used Liquid Metal before, and we've heard people claim that Liquid Metal isn't being used by Apple except in some glorified paper clips, I can't seem to find any details.

One example is Samsung. They started using Liquid Metal for phone hinges back in 2002. They continued using LM for parts over the years, even creating the world's first LM luxury phone in 2008, citing its corrosion and scratch resistance. They continued to use it for trim.
Rating: 3 Votes
90 months ago

Liquid metal components have big potential for use in phones etc but have you ever considered their engineers may not have been able to get the production yields they need with liquid metal to include it in their products yet. Anything that goes into an Apple product has to scale to huge production quantities, which is probably why we haven't seen IGZO screens in iDevices yet. Great potential but volume production problems.

Then. Why. The. Exclusivity ?


Look, I'm not saying Apple shouldn't be looking into Liquid Metal, or trying it out, or getting a license to the some of the patents. It's the exclusivity bit that bugs me, especially in light of Apple not actually using it.

Sandisk had MP3 players built with the stuff in 2006. That it's not ready for Apple to use in the quantities they need for parts they need is not what I'm having an issue with. It's locking out other players that might have a use for which the product is ready that is the puzzling part. It's Apple trying to gain an advantage using its cash reserves, locking people out of technology.

Same as their stylus patents, touch screen Macs even though "they don't work" patents.

Apple needs to stop trying to compete by preventing others from competing, it needs to rely on its great products and marketing instead. There will always be users who don't want/need Apple products and trying to prevent them from having the choice to go elsewhere is just going to hurt their brand image in the end.

It all remains to be seen if this applies to this AuthenTec purchase, it's just sad that people that have these AuthenTec enable devices outside of Apple are now locked out of future updates because Apple is picking up the IP, especially in light that they don't really seem to have a use for it.
Rating: 3 Votes
90 months ago

And sometimes, they just claim they will and never do. Like Facetime. And other times, it's because licensing of the copyrighted codebase they are using forces them to. Like Webkit.

But the fact remains, Liquid Metal's license seems to be a move to lock out the competition from using it. Same as when they use their massive supply chains to simply lock out the competition from getting parts like NAND or Displays.

Apple always does what benefits Apple. That shouldn't be a surprise, Apple isn't exactly out to make the world a better place, it's goal like any publicly traded company is simply profits.

Actually, Apple was not forced to leave Webkit open if you read up on the limited license it was protected under. Facetime is open because it's basically SIP, and it's already open right now.

Did you ever consider that Liquid Metal may not be up to Apple's level of quality yet? Or is it always instantly Apple being predatory? I'm sure Apple was simply locking out the competition rather than getting **** a lot cheaper too.
Rating: 3 Votes
90 months ago

If this is anything like the Liquid Metal exclusivity license Apple acquired, it could very much be not about integrating it in its own products, but about locking its competition out of it.

Sometimes Apple reminds me of those seagulls in "Finding Nemo". They don't like to share anything.

Wow. Am I the only person that does not want my biometrics to be scanned or stored anywhere ever? This seems like it is heading down a road I don't want to travel.

If it's just stored locally, it could be quite useful.

Fingerprint scanners have been used on handhelds since before 2000.

The first retina-screen smartphone (the 2007 Toshiba Portégé G900) had a fingerprint scanner which not only could be used to unlock the phone, but you could even set it up so that each finger launched a different application.

Scanners can also be used to confirm the user when making electronic payments, picking up tickets, etc.
Rating: 3 Votes
90 months ago
I can't make my mind up as to whether this'd make it into the next iPhone iteration or not. Else it'll be more of an iPhone 6 than a 5S, which I'm all for. Finger crossed.

Entering my passcode is getting tedious (first world problem).
Rating: 3 Votes
90 months ago

Considering clang is a front-end to LLVM, I don't see how they can be seperated.

They are, clang handles parsing and errors, llvm handles code generation. llvm by itself is not a c compiler. The modular characteristics makes it useful in different projects. The decision to open source clang can be found straight from the horse's mouth:

GCC is not a front-end to LLVM.

The gcc front end was used with llvm prior to clang, yes. Don't know about Mountain Lion but on for example Snow Leopard llvm-gcc is part of the dev tools. From the man page description section:

llvm-gcc uses gcc front-end and gcc's command line interface. Consult the cc(1) man page for command line options supported by llvm-gcc.

Rating: 2 Votes
90 months ago

Because we were talking about settling patents. KnightWRX was saying that Apple was stalling. I gave proof of recent cross licence agreements, and showed how Samsung do not want to settle. I merely pointed out to him - as he was bashing Apple, again... - that people would've gotten crazy had an Apple exec made that statement to the media regarding Apple's plans.

Jobs' views are now irrelevant. He has sadly passed and has no power on decision making. His personal views made to his biographer can in no way be taken as Apple's word. You really believe the board would've let Apple spend all their money on 'destroying Android'. They'd have kicked him to the curb if he tried. This isn't conkers in the school yard - these are multi-billion dollar businesses on the line.

It's irrelevant what the board would and would not do. The comment was made to the media - a criteria you had set yourself in your comment. You can try and backpeddle/move the goalpost as much as you want. And given his prominence at Apple - his word was very much "Apple's".

But you're right - and it's something I've said - he never would have succeeded because the board would have kicked him out before he spent every dime (money that wasn't even his to spend).

I still think you are misguided when it comes to Knight though. He doesn't hate Apple. And as far as I can tell - he's not bashing them either. But you can read into his comments however you want regardless of his intentions.
Rating: 2 Votes
90 months ago

Also I never said Jobs was reasonable - not sure why you brought that up though - weird tangent. Jobs was talking to his biographer on his way to dying, Samsung were responding to the media about a current issue. I said people like KnightWRX would be frothing at the mouth had an Apple exec made that Samsung quote - I mean really can you imagine the column inches and the silly comments we would've had if say, Schiller, would've come out with that!

I brought it up because you said "Can you imagine if an Apple Exec came out with the same line the Samsung Exec did "We have no intention to settle"

It's not a tangent. Jobs was an Exec - and that quote pretty much makes it clear he's not willing to settle. Both were comments made that would go public. Whether a biographer or a reporter - both are the media.

And there are a lot of people - from all walks of life who have/had a problem with Jobs' statement and still do.

How you don't see the statement as relevant to your commentary is baffling to me. But oh well :)
Rating: 2 Votes
90 months ago

Ad hominems won't get you far with me. Move me to ignore if you don't like me, I'm not going away.

Ad hominems - HA! Read the other 98% of my post. Deary me, blinkers man, take them off and read what I wrote.

Your entire argument was picked apart and that's how you repond? Politician like spin you can produce old chap. Not sure why you have the bee in your bonnet, maybe you have a business that wanted to use Liquid Metal in a consumer product and therefore have been personally affected by Apple's exclusivity? I'm not sure, but you bleat on and on about the sillest things.

A good argument would be great (anti or pro Apple)... but so often you pipe along with no facts it's like spam in the comments section. 'Apple is allergic to competition' is my favourite for today - if you could explain that with fact you would win me over!

Can you perhaps explain why a company using it's cash to buy exclusivity is a bad business practice? Surely it's a great practice - I'm sure the board and shareholders agree. It's not like there are no other options. In a way I'm glad for this exclusiveness, even as a consumer. Look at the way the MacBook Pro has been 'duplicated' by the competition. If Liquid Metal allows Apple to do something new and unique perhaps the competition - who can't use it will have to innovate in other ways? Using different metals, plastics and glass - creating a wider choice for us the consumer and pushing innovation (We know Nokia/Microsoft agreed not to 'copy' Apple design and we got the incredibly we designed Lumia range.. WIN). It's just crazy that you are moaning about a company buying something that was available for sale...

Happy to ignore you though. :)

Well for one - since you nor I know anything about the terms Apple was "willing to settle over" specifically - how can you say it was a real attempt to negotiate. Meaning - Maybe Apple's offer was incredibly and deliberately insulting. I don't know. But if it was and Samsung said no - that's not really offering to settle any more than a bank "offering" to give me a home loan but wanting an 20% interest rate.

And might I remind you of this quote: "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," and, "I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Yes - sounds like a reasonable CEO willing to negotiate.

Very true. We have no idea or specifics. That's why I don't get crazy over what these guys say until we have the facts. What I do know is the HTC CEO recently said he's happy with the terms. Microsoft and Apple seem to get on fine (regardless of their history) when it comes to patent cross licences. Why would Apple and Samsung struggle to reach a settlement? We don't know - but you'd think they could reach one too.

Also I never said Jobs was reasonable - not sure why you brought that up though - weird tangent. Jobs was talking to his biographer on his way to dying, Samsung were responding to the media about a current issue. I said people like KnightWRX would be frothing at the mouth had an Apple exec made that Samsung quote - I mean really can you imagine the column inches and the silly comments we would've had if say, Schiller, would've come out with that!
Rating: 2 Votes

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