Though Apple's share of the smartphone market has been overtaken by a flood of Android devices, the company is still setting the industry trends. The iPhone 5S was announced back in September and is no exception to this trend. In addition to its 64-bit A7 processor, the major upgrade in the device over the iPhone 5 is the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
With Apple now touting its fingerprint scanner as a new verification and security feature, component manufacturers are anticipating that other smartphone manufacturers will be putting the technology in their devices. Market research firm IHS today released a report predicting that shipments of fingerprint-scanning enabled smartphones will increase dramatically by the year 2017, up to 525 million units from just 4.5 million units shipped in 2012.
“Fingerprint scanning for security, authentication and other purposes has always been a conceptually attractive solution in smartphones,” said Marwan Boustany, senior analyst for MEMS and Sensors at IHS. “However, cost, size, performance and reliability issues have prevented fingerprint sensors from attaining widespread adoption. With the introduction of the iPhone 5s, Apple has overcome these challenges and has offered a fingerprint sensor solution that delivers seamless functionality. Now that Apple has shown the way, competitors are in a race to enter the market with similar systems, propelling rapid growth in the coming years.”
Samsung, now Apple's largest competitor, is expected to once again to quickly imitate Apple. The Korean manufacturer is predicted by IHS to offer a smartphone with fingerprint-scanning technology by sometime in 2014. Other manufacturers will follow suit, though the failing HTC is already offering the feature in its newest smartphone, the HTC One Max.
Though fingerprint scanners are nothing new for the industry, IHS points out that it has taken the Apple push for the tech to gain traction. The firm points to Apple's design and ease-of-use as two factors for why the 5S' fingerprint sensor may actually be useful.
“The increasing awareness of security and the high value of data in handsets - combined with the convenience of solutions and the ‘me-too’ effect among OEMs - will serve to promote the usage of fingerprint sensors in handsets, along with other biometric technologies,” said Boustany.