Apple just needs smart sensors so AuthenTec unloads its encryption biz

AuthenTec, the maker of NFC chips and smart sensors that Apple bought in the summer for $356 million, has sold off its division which makes encryption-based security hardware and software. The buyer is French NFC maker and contactless chip provider Inside Secure and the transaction is valued at $48 million.

That Apple decided to get rid of AuthenTec’s Embedded Security Solutions division is another tell-tale sign that the iPhone maker snapped up AuthenTec for its NFC solutions and smart sensors that are not part of the Inside Secure deal.

Yes Mr. Schiller, I know “Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today”, but Apple did drop $356 million on an NFC tech maker and obviously your next iPhone is going to have NFC

Today’s development also means analysts were wrong predicting Apple bought AuthenTec primarily in order to bolster the iPhone’s enterprise security.

And the likes of LG, Motorola, Samsung and Nokia who used to source their embedded security solutions and encryption algorithms from AuthenTec can now talk to Inside Secure of France.

The deal has been confirmed by TechCrunch, The Next Web, NFC World and other publications.

Apple-owned AuthenTec has three main divisions left: Government & Access Control, Smart Sensor and Software and eCommerce divisions, of which Smart Sensor is most likely in Apple’s focus of interest.

How do we know that?

Because AuthenTec is telling existing clients to buy their sensors elsewhere in 2013.

NFC World concurs:

The sale suggests that Apple’s interest in acquiring Authentec lies with the company’s innovative combined fingerprint and NFC solution, which is not part of the division being acquired by Inside Secure, and will lead to renewed speculation that Apple will include NFC in future iPhones and other devices.

We also heard vague whispers of Apple working with Sydney-based Microlatch to develop fingerprint technology for NFC apps.

Even with all of the above, we still know very little about the intricacies of the Apple-AuthenTec deal, Apple’s motive for the acquisition and how it will affect future products.

Perhaps you could weigh in with your opinion down in the comments?