Apple rumoured to be discussing Twitter investment, buys up fingerprint scanning company

The internet has been buzzing with news that Apple may be considering a strategic investment in micro-blogging company Twitter – although separate reports have put a dampener on the speculation, suggesting the talks have been over for some time.

The news comes as it has also been confirmed the iPhone maker has snapped up a fingerprint scanning company for $365 million, as it battles against tech rival Samsung to pack its devices with more features.

Apple and Twitter are no strangers. The two worked together to integrate Twitter services in the most recent version of iOS, and have been adding more Twitter functionality in Apple’s desktop software for Macs.

Overnight, The New York Times suggested the two companies have been speaking about a strategic investment as Apple’s appetite grows for social media tools that will help promote its apps and software.

The report even says an investment worth up to hundreds of millions of dollars has been considered, valuing Twitter at more than $US10 billion.

Twitter is already valued at around $US8.4 billion after raising more funds last year. Reports indicate it doesn’t need Apple’s money, with hundreds of millions in cash on hand.

However, a separate report in The Wall Street Journal claims that while Apple and Twitter have certainly held talks, these occurred more than a year ago and didn’t result in a deal. The publication also claims these talks aren’t ongoing.

Apple’s interest in Twitter makes sense. Although the iPhone maker understands the power of social networking, it doesn’t have the clout or resources to make such a venture successful – as it found out last year with its iTunes Ping service.

Some reports indicate that Ping is set to be scrapped in the next version of iTunes due this year.

“Apple doesn’t have to own a social network,” Apple chief Tim Cook said at the All Things Digital conference recently. “But does Apple need to be social? Yes.”

The two companies already share a close relationship, with functionality baked into Apple software. That connection could also help Twitter escape the current scepticism surrounding technology companies, whose stocks have floundered in the past several months as the hype surrounding tech initial public offerings begins to dwindle.

Facebook stock has lost a third of its value since listing in mid-May.

Meanwhile, Apple has spent $356 million on mobile security company AuthenTec, according to a regulatory filing. The deal represents a fraction of Apple’s $US117 billion on hand.

AuthenTec was founded in 1998 and specialises in fingerprint scanning technology. The tech can be installed in computers and other devices in order detect fingerprints, but also other types of input such as motion. Nokia and Samsung are among its current clients.

While the purchase of a fingerprint scanner may suggest Apple is considering including the technology in the iPhone, users shouldn’t get too excited just yet – any possible integration is still more than a year away.

Apple regularly buys smaller companies but does not reveal all of its transactions. The last supposed purchase was for an Israeli flash storage maker, in a $US500 million deal.


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