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Apple's AuthenTec purchase may pave way for iOS biometrics

In addition to fingerprint technology, AuthenTec provides mobile security software licenses. One of its customers is Samsung, a main rival of Apple's.

Apple Inc. has agreed to pay $365 million to acquire fingerprint sensor technology developer AuthenTec Inc., according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, submitted July 26.

AuthenTec, based in Melbourne, Fla., provides fingerprint sensor technology to computer companies and mobile security software licenses to mobile phone providers. Apple's AuthenTec purchase, observers believe, may be motivated by a desire develop iOS biometrics capabilities, which may pave the way for use of fingerprint technology as a form of security for mobile payments in the next version of the iPhone or iPad.

Among AuthenTec's customers is Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., one of Apple's main competitors. Samsung has been purchasing mobile security software from AuthenTec, an aspect of business AuthenTec recently further emphasized.

A deal between AuthenTec and Samsung to secure Samsung's Android devices would have likely been perceived as a threat to Apple. Apple's purchase of AuthenTec would block, or at least control, further collaboration between AuthenTec and Samsung.

AuthenTec reports annual revenue of about $70 million.

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