Reuters is reporting that Apple has bought AuthenTec—a company which makes secure fingerprint sensors and precision touchscreen solutions—for $356 million. Either it's gotten extremely serious about its own security, or wants to make it much harder for the competition. Or both!

AuthenTec's currently supplies hardware for the likes of Cisco, Fujitsu, HBO, HP, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Samsung, Sky, and Texas Instruments. Reuters reports that Apple is going to pay $8 a share, making the total purchase price $356 million.


There aren't many more details at present, but the move perhaps signals that Apple is getting more serious about security (as echoed by its presence at the Black Hat hacking conference this week). Or it could be that Apple's more interested in AuthenTec's portfolio of "mobile smart sensors," which the company claims offers a precision touch and personalized gesture experience. Which makes all sorts of sense for the iPhone and iPad.

Or, since AuthenTec supplies security for Samsung Android devices and countless others, this could just be largely a defensive acquisition. Once Apple owns AuthenTec, its Android and PC competitors won't have access to all that shiny technology—or they will, after a hefty licensing fee that goes direct into Cupertino's coffers.

Let's all hope, though, however unlikely, that this is a pure enterprise play on Apple's part, an attempt to make its laptops secure enough for the business-minded. If only to see how Jony Ive would make a fingerprint scanner look good on a MacBook Air. [Reuters]

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