Capacitive Fingerprint Sensors on Smartphones: Supply Chain and Future Developments

  • June 2014
  • -
  • Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute
  • -
  • 25 pages


In the wake of its acquisition of capacitive fingerprint sensor maker AuthenTec in mid-2012, Apple rolled out iPhone 5S that incorporates an embedded capacitive fingerprint sensor in 2013 and gained intense media attention. Later, the HTC Max and the Samsung Galaxy S5 were released and both embraced a fingerprint sensor similar to the iPhone 5S. Fingerprint sensor technology is not the first time being used on mobile phones though. Key factors affecting the adoption of fingerprint sensors are whether its ecosystem will take shape and whether it will become a common feature on mobile phones. This report summarizes how capacitive fingerprint sensors have evolved, and examines how the industry's supply chain collaborates.

1. Development of Fingerprint Sensors on Mobile Phones

In 2013, Apple's iPhone 5S caught the market attention with a built-in fingerprint sensor. But, Apple is not the first company to do so, as in the few years before Apple, a couple of Japanese brands had taken a high interest in fingerprint sensors. Back in 2011, Fujitsu had built fingerprint sensors into its smartphones, such as Regza phone T-01D and Arrows series of phones. Tracing back further to the feature phone era, Japanese NTT DOCOMO rolled out a foldable feature phone, dubbed F505i, which enables the ID (Identification) of the fingerprint in 2003. At the same time, thinking ahead the future where potential for mobile payments might be huge, NTT DOCOMO joined hands with JCB - Japan's largest credit card company - and JCB's employees were asked to engage in fingerprint authentication trial project using NTT DOCOMO's mobile phone equipped with a fingerprint sensor. Although the results did not reveal to the public, based on what happened after that, it is not hard to guess that fingerprint sensors failed to spike the interest of phones users back then.

Table Of Contents

List of Topics

1. Development of Fingerprint Sensors on Mobile Phones
1.1 Landscape of Mobile Phone Fingerprint Sensors Taking Shape
1.1.1 The Rise of Security Issues Surrounding PC-like Mobile Phones
1.1.2 Demand for Safe Online Transactions Increases as e-Commerce Booms
1.2 Capacitive as The Most Commonly Used Fingerprint Sensor Technology on Mobile Phones
1.3 Area Type Sensors Focus more on Intuitive UI; Swipe Type Sensors Have High Level of Design Flexibility
2. Capacitive Fingerprint Sensor Industry Structure and Development
2.1 US and Japanese Vendors Lead the Market Whilst Taiwanese Vendors Dedicated to Contract Manufacturing
2.2 Mergers and Acquisitions Intensify Industry Concentration
2.2.1 Apple's Acquisition of AuthenTec to Cause Wave
2.3 Touch Controller IC Designers to Seek Opportunities in the Fingerprint Sensor Industry
MIC Perspectives
Glossary of Terms
List of Companies

List of Tables

Comparison of Fingerprint Sensor Smartphones Launched by Branded Vendors
Comparison of Area Type and Swipe Type Sensors

List of Figures

Fingerprint Sensor Technology and Category Types
Operation Flow of Fingerprint Identification System
Capacitive Fingerprint Industry Landscape and Key Players
Capacitive Fingerprint Patent Filing Years and Patent Numbers
Top 20 Capacitive Fingerprint ID Patent Holders by Region
Mergers and Acquisitions in the Capacitive Fingerprint Sensor Industry
Apple's Acquisition of AuthenTec and AuthenTec's Acquisitions in the Past
Major Suppliers of Mobile Phone Fingerprint ID Sensors, Patent Filing Year, and Patent-holding Numbers

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