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Apple Buys AuthenTec, Could Let iPhones Pay via Fingerprint

The battle for BYOD and enterprise supremacy heated up this morning as Apple agreed to buy AuthenTec for a cool $356 million. AuthenTec's NFC chips, fingerprint recognition technology, and security and identity protection software have been used by several top-line technology manufacturers, including HP, Dell, LG, Motorola Mobility, Lenovo and Nokia.

AuthenTec recently began taking bigger steps into the mobile market, including signing several agreements to beef up authentication security for various Android offerings. Earlier this month, the company inked a deal to bring AuthenTec's mobile VPN client to Samsung's Android phones and tablets -- an agreement that could be in jeopardy with Apple behind the reins.

Apple's motives for buying AuthenTec aren't clear yet. The most obvious reason would be to get a jump in the enterprise market; as TechCrunch points out, Apple CEO Tim Cook repeatedly mentioned corporate adoption of the iPhone and iPad when discussing the company's second quarter financials. AuthenTec's security specialties are very enterprise friendly, and if Apple can figure out a way to integrate AuthenTec's fingerprint scanning technology into the touchscreen, it'll have an even bigger business hit on its hands.

The acquisition could have more consumer-orientated ramifications, too: Fast Company reports that AuthenTec performed a fingerprint-enabled NFC transaction late last year, adding an extra layer of biometric security to the payment technology.

Did Apple buy AuthenTec to help you pay with a fingerprint or to make iOS more cubicle friendly? We'll have to wait and see.

Via Reuters. Image via Authentec