Apple’s recent unveiling of Touch ID for the iPhone 5S has been declared the most convenient and, more importantly, secure means of unlocking a smartphone yet. Whilst many derided the decision as a means of gathering data for the US government and NSA (as shown in the meme below), with Apple’s history of taking existing technology and giving it credibility in the mass market, the question of biometric security entering the smartphone and tablet market is already answered. More importantly, however, is whether Apple will sway businesses and the professional sphere into incorporating this technology into their existing security protocols.
Is Apple’s Touch ID the First Step in Widespread Adoption of Biometric Security?
When one looks back into Apple’s history with consumers, it’s clear that they’re a company who, rather than creating brand new and never before heard of products, reinvent and retool concepts that have been part of the public consciousness for a fair amount of time but have failed to achieve mainstream success.
Take, for example, the digital distribution of music. In 1998, Ritmoteca.com tried to establish the very first fully licensed digital music distribution service. Tracks cost $0.99. Albums Cost $9.99. Sound familiar? Ritmoteca went bust in 2003 despite millions of dollars of angel investment and distribution deals with the “big three” record labels.
The same yeah Ritmoteca fell into the nether, the iTunes store was launched. Tracks cost $0.99, albums cost $9.99 and the world could hardly contain its excitement. Paired with the iPod (Apple’s 2001 reiteration the portable MP3 player, a product released 4 years earlier), the iTunes store went on to be a smash hit, with sales of one bolstering sales of the other. It seems that the legacy of genius left behind by the late Steve Jobs wasn’t so much a legacy of invention, but rather one of renovation.
Philip Whitchelo, Vice President of Product Marketing at Intralinks, a leading secure virtual data room provider, weighed in one the history and potential future of biometric security considering Apple’s recent announcement:
“Fingerprint biometric technology has been around for more than ten years now. Back then, the technology wasn’t that great. It was used by corporations mainly for access security and to limit employee access to certain secure sections of the premises. The technology wasn’t fool proof and that didn’t help boost consumer confidence.
“Although drastic technological improvements have been made since then, consumer confidence has not caught up. Therefore, it remains to be seen if consumers and financial institutions will start using fingerprint and other biometric technology. I think Apple’s new product offering might help boost consumer confidence. When financial institutions notice this, they might start testing the use of some hybrid form of this technology – such as fingerprints combined with a pin code.”
If the use of biometric security amongst the general public is the first step to business adoption as Whitchelo proposes, then it shouldn’t be too long until business institutions start utilising this technology as, let’s face it, the iPhone 5S is going to sell like hotcakes.
Biometric security may have been around since the late nineties/early noughties, but the tablet computer has a history stretching back to 1989, and no-one was using them until the iPad arrived in 2010. Early adopters of the iPad may have been simply tech enthusiasts, but it didn’t take long for the flagship tablet to find its way into boardrooms across the globe.
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