NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On the heels of Apple's (AAPL) recent earnings disappointment, analysts started asking what the company is doing with all of its cash, concerned as they are with the company's slowing growth in the recent quarter.
That question was answered Friday when Apple announced it had spent an estimated $356 million to acquire AuthenTec (AUTH), a company that specializes in fingerprint sensor chips used in personal computers and mobile devices.
But it's much more than that.One of the key areas of AuthenTec's expertise is providing security for a near-field communication-based mobile e-wallet. This supports previous rumors that Apple was interested in an e-wallet functionality for its mobile devices, particularly in the upcoming launch of its IOS6 featuring its new app, Passbook. What's more, there were growing concerns about Apple's adoption of Facebook (FB) into its IOS. To some extent, these concerns may now go away. In a move I suspected was aimed at putting an immediate end to Google's progress with Google+, Apple partnered with Facebook, Google's main rival in social media -- essentially "friending" an enemy of its enemy. This follows attempting to cut off Google's mobile traffic by ditching Google maps from future Apple mobile devices. However, in its adoption of Facebook, Apple risks acquiring Facebook security concerns -- integration works in both directions. For example, when a user adds an event in his/her Facebook calendar and has anniversaries or birthdays of friends on Facebook, they also appear on the user's iPhone's calendar, to the extent that it can even popup as a reminder. Even more remarkable is that as friends on Facebook update their contact information, that new change will sync with the contact list on the user's iPhone. That's all well and good, but here's the problem: security and privacy. For years Apple prided itself on how secure its machines have been when compared to its PC rivals. With the Facebook move, it might have lost that distinction.
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