Apple beefs up mobile security with $356M AuthenTec acquisition

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is buying digital security firm AuthenTec for $356 million. The deal comes less than two weeks after AuthenTec inked a deal with Samsung Electronics to provide security and authentication solutions optimized for devices running Apple rival Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system.

AuthenTec offers encryption technology, fingerprint sensors, identity management software and Near Field Communications services integrated into a range of portable electronics products, including more than 15 million mobile phones. AuthenTec has previously worked with Apple on its Mac OS X desktop platform--additional partners include Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Motorola, LG Electronics and Orange. Reuters reports that AuthenTec's annual revenues exceed $70 million.

Earlier this month, AuthenTec announced that Samsung will integrate its QuickSec Mobile VPN Client for Android into future smartphones and tablets. Devices equipped with the client connect to enterprise networks the moment they are unboxed, eliminating demands on IT administrators to install a separate VPN application.

North Shore Asset Management portfolio manager Michael Obuchowski told Bloomberg that the AuthenTec acquisition will help Apple improve on-device security by shoring up biometric features in its iOS mobile operating system. Obuchowski said Apple is under pressure to accelerate its mobile product development cycle as competition increases: The company shipped 26 million iPhones during its fiscal third quarter, down 9 million compared to the previous quarter, underscoring the need to release a new smartphone model.

For more:
- Read this Reuters article
- Read this Bloomberg article

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