The rise of new fingerprint sensing technologies: How will Apple react?

Apple introduced the iPhone 5s in 2013, after acquiring Authentec a year earlier. Since then, fingerprint sensors have been massively adopted in smartphones, and the volumes of sensors shipped into the consumer market has grown incredibly, from 23 million units to 689 million in 2016 (See the recent report from Yole Développement Fingerprint Sensor Applications and Technologies – Consumer Market Focus). Apple was not the first manufacturer to integrate a fingerprint sensor into a consumer product, but its sensor resonated with the largest number of people.

At first, they were using it as a convenience and protection feature for unlocking phones. Now, the function is changing into a security feature for online identification and mobile payment in an increasing number of smartphones. This has caused the emergence of three major players: Apple, Fingerprint Cards and Synaptics.

Synaptics has achieved outstanding growth in the fingerprint sensor market, with revenues reaching $300M. Fingerprint Cards, a Swedish player, is perhaps even more impressive, with revenues jumping 24-fold from $34M in 2014 to $835M in 2016. But Apple leads the fingerprint sensing market in the consumer space, generating revenues of more than $1B from this segment last year.
From enhanced capacitive technology, to ultrasonic detection, or even optical TFT detection, the battle for the future of fingerprint sensing has begun, and the winner could hit the jackpot. We estimate the market will be worth $4.7B by 2022.


In such a market with severe design constraints, technology has to adapt and change rapidly: one could be surprised by not seeing the leader giving signs of things to come. Indeed, fingerprint sensors and application processors are the only components that Apple designs in-house, meaning that these devices can be considered as key elements to the company and are part of its long-term strategy. So, has Apple looked internally to develop new technology, or enhance its existing technology? Will it leave the supply of this element to a well-known manufacturer? Or, have they studied secretly for an acquisition that could reshape the industry for good, or will they rely on another biometric sensor? You can find the most up-to-date answers to these questions in the recent analyses from Yole Développement. (see below and here)



cover FingerPrintFingerprint Sensor Applications and Technologies – Consumer Market Focus

The rapid-changing fingerprint technology market has expanded impressively into the consumer space – now shipment volumes will benefit from an 19% CAGR through to 2022, when the market will be worth $4.7B.




couv sensorsForCellphones 2016


Sensors for Cellphones and Tablets 2016

In a global cellphone and tablet industry worth over $550B, sensors commanded US$12.2B in 2015, with 9.5% CAGR forecasted for 2015-2021.




Couv Biometry Yole


Sensors for Biometry and Recognition 2016

In a global biometric hardware market worth over $4B, traditional fingerprint/palm sensors still monopolize 91% of the market, but face and iris sensors lie in wait.




And discover more analysis about Fingerprint (reverse engineering, patente landscape, etc…) here