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Apple Buys Fingerprint Sensor Tech Company


AuthenTec's value to Apple includes facilitating mobile payments and thwarting Samsung.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Apple (AAPL) announced it would buy AuthenTec (AUTH), which makes fingerprint sensor chips, for about $358 million. In Japan, fingerprint scanning technology is used on mobile phones to authorize payments in lieu of a typed password.

Analysts expect the next version of the iPhone to include some AuthenTec technology that can be used to make mobile payments, combat theft, or both. The purchase by Apple also signals the development of a secure iPad

Just 10 days ago, AuthenTec announced that its technology would be used in Samsung's (SSNLF) smartphones and tablets. Some observers say that this might have been the catalyst for the deal. If the technology were to be adopted by Samsung's Android, that could have been a material threat to Apple devices.

Supporting this theory, there is no love lost between Apple and Samsung, as witnessed by their ongoing intellectual property debate over the iPhone design.

AuthenTec technology is also used in Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) devices.

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