Apple’s Next Big Thing: iFingerprint?

It’s seeming more and more likely that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be including a fingerprint sensor in its next iPhone — and potentially many of its future devices — and that could be big news for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (NYSE:TSM) and other manufacturers in Taiwan.

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KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has shown a lot of accuracy in his predictions of what products Apple will launch, and when, particularly because of apparent connections Kuo has with suppliers. He has long been suggesting that Apple will include fingerprint sensors in an iPhone 5S, and it doesn’t seem unlikely.

Last year, Apple acquired AuthenTec, a security firm with fingerprint expertise. That alone made the likelihood of some fingerprint application skyrocket. Adding credibility that the technology will be incorporated into the iPhone 5S are rumors that the next device will likely incorporate Near-Field Communication technology to allow various banking features. This sort of higher-risk feature would make a fingerprint sensor invaluable for protecting a user’s information and assets. A job listings posted by Apple for software engineers at the company’s “Melbourne Design Center” in Florida could be another hint that Apple’s moving toward the technology because AuthenTec is based in Melbourne, Florida…

As Apple tries to cut more ties with its biggest supplier, Samsung — because of their numerous legal disputes — Kuo has suggested that Apple will turn toward Taiwan for its chip needs. Many have suggested a relationship between Apple and TSMC is the logical move. Considering that TSMC made silicon for AuthenTec, it could even prove to be a relationship that further confirms fingerprint sensor rumors.

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Two other Taiwan-based companies, Xintec and ASE, could be tapped to work on Apple products, bringing a significant portion of Apple’s supply chain to Taiwan, and out of Korea. However, Kuo suggested that some of the business could go to Sharp in Japan instead.

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