Back in July, Apple surprised us by announcing it was acquiring mobile security firm AuthenTec for approximately $356 million.
The acquisition gave Apple non-exclusive rights to AuthenTec’s Intellectual Property, which includes control of fingerprint sensors, touchchips, embedded security solutions and patents owned by the company or that’s what we thought.
NFC World via TechCrunch reports Authentec has sold of its Embedded Security Solutions (ESS) division to a NFC company called Inside Secure for $48 million, which indicates that Apple is interested in AuthenTec’s fingerprint sensor and NFC technology.
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. ESS offers three product lines: Content Protection, Security Toolkit and Semiconductor IP.
Sarah Clark of NFC World speculates:
The sale suggests that Apple’s interest in acquiring Authentec lies with the company’s innovative combined fingerprint and NFC solution, which is not part of the division being acquired by Inside Secure, and will lead to renewed speculation that Apple will include NFC in future iPhones and other devices.
It is widely speculated that Apple could incorporate the fingerprint sensor in the Home button that would interact with the apps like Passbook to offer secure authentication and help process NFC commands based on the positive authentication of the user.
It remains to be seen if Apple will incorporate the fingerprint technology in iOS devices that will be launched in 2013.