Seeing how an increasing number of competitors in the smartphone market are stepping up to challenge Apple’s once indomitable reign (with Samsung’s Galaxy S III apparently doing the most damage so far), the Cupertino based giant seems adamant about employing whatever means necessary to assert its dominant status. One measure the company seems to be particularly good at, as has been observed recently, is making major strategic investments.
Just last Friday, it was announced that Apple acquired AuthenTec, a company known for its fingerprint biometric technology, for an estimated $356 million USD. Representatives from Apple’s side have not officially commented on the matter, although the folks at the security tech firm, along with a number of major news sources, were quick to confirm the acquisition.
Established in 1998, AuthenTec is considered by many to be a leading provider of mobile and network-related security, having provided more than 100 million fingerprint sensors to PC-related products and smartphone devices. With the merger, Apple will not only have access to the company’s wide array of technological patents, it will also be able to strengthen its grasp on consumers who are concerned with mobile network privacy and safety.
Current rumors suggest that Apple may use AuthenTec’s resources to develop such iPhone features as the mobile e-wallet, customizable mobile commerce systems, and fingerprint access sensors. The company’s technology, above all else, could also be utilized to significantly complement Apple’s new “Passbook,” a passport-like feature that will allow users to buy travel tickets, movie passes, and business related coupons. Passbook is expected to appear on iOS 6 and may become a prominent feature of the iPhone 5.
Venturing into the Social Network Territory
In addition to offering potentially unparalleled security services, rumor has it that Apple is also contemplating about strengthening its hold on social networks. New York Times reported a few days ago that the Cupertino tech giant and Twitter have allegedly revived talks concerning a merger that would significantly increase the latter company’s value. While news sources like Wall Street Journal pointed out that the talks actually took place a year ago and believed the partnership negotiations to be temporarily off the table, many have not ruled out the possibility that the two may eventually join forces in the future.
Compared to Facebook, Twitter’s number of active users—approximately 140 million— may not be a monstrous amount, although its continuing growth can potentially help Apple assemble the strong social base that Ping, the Cupertino firm’s attempt at a music social network, had failed to establish.
As reported in earlier articles, companies like HTC is already partnering with Facebook to develop what some believe will be a potentially groundbreaking “social” smartphone. In a way, a stable, large social network is precisely what Apple needs if it wishes to maintain its grip in a smartphone industry that is growing more and more diverse.