Why Apple was absolutely brilliant to delay Touch ID for iPad until 2014

“When Apple launched the iPhone 5s last year, one of the key differentiating features was the integrated fingerprint reader known as Touch ID,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “Much to the disappointment of many Apple customers, the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina display that launched following the iPhone 5s didn’t sport Touch ID. But this year’s iPads should pack this key feature. Here’s why Apple was absolutely brilliant for putting off Touch ID for iPad until 2014.”

“Back in 2013, one of the key concerns surrounding Apple’s Touch ID was that it was difficult to get these touch sensors to yield well. Of course, as Apple and its foundry partner (in this case, Taiwan Semiconductor) is cited as the manufacturer of Touch ID) learn how to build these things better, the yields go up, and the cost per unit comes down,” Eassa writes. “This is a plausible explanation, and it is very likely that it was one of the key driving factors behind the deferral of Touch ID for iPad until the 2014 models, but there’s another reason that Apple likely wanted to hold off that makes even more sense in the context of the current competitive environment.”

“When Apple releases the next generation iPad Air this year, it will likely look very similar to this year’s iPad Air, perhaps with a few tweaks to the industrial design here and there. Internally, one should expect that the next generation iPad Air should be much faster, but the difference that will have a big impact on usability will be the Touch ID. Indeed, as iOS 8 now exposes Touch ID via an API to app developers, the uses for Touch ID across a multitude of apps are set to explode, and an iOS device without Touch ID will feel distinctly lacking from one with Touch ID,” Eassa writes. “By putting off Touch ID for the iPad until this year, Apple was able to ensure that it could waterfall a strong product [the 2013 iPad Air] to the $399 price point while still having an obvious differentiating factor to try to upsell customers to the $499 flagship.”

Read more in the full article here.

13 Comments

  1. As someone stranded by Apple when they bought AuthenTec and then killed support for the Eikon line of USB fingerprint readers (Mavericks broke the SW drivers and Apple killed software updates), I would like to know when we can expect to see a fingerprint reader on a Macintosh keyboard or mouse.

    1. Why do you think Apple is obligated to maintain the line of equipment made and sold by a company they bought? They didn’t want that equipment only the reader technology.

      1. While Apple may not be formally obligated to do so, I can understand Darwin Evolved’s disappointment that Apple orphaned the Eikon line of USB fingerprint readers, especially since that abandonment included Apple’s own hardware/software products (not just Windows).

        It would have been different if Apple had waited until it had a replacement product in place to take over from the Eikon readers. But, based upon DE’s post, Apple apparently did not.

        Apple does many great things. But I have noticed that the company occasionally makes some seemingly wrongheaded moves in abruptly canceling products that have value to a significant subset of Apple’s user base. This occurs even when the expense of maintaining the hardware or software for another year or two to support a more graceful transition would be fairly minimal.

        I love Apple – I have raised a family of Apple fans and helped a number of friends and relatives to see the merits of the Apple ecosystem. But Apple is fallible.

    2. I’ld bet solid dollars, the next release of all iPads and MacBooks will have touch sensors.

      That is Apple’s history of moving substantial technology forward to all devices once it is proven.

  2. I hope Apple isn’t delaying innovation so that it has something new to feature this fall. The answer, in that case, would be to increase the rate of innovation so that they don’t have to worry about having a significantly improved product each year.

    I think the first reason is more likely. The sensor involves very complex manufacturing and it would make sense to roll it out on one product, such as the phone, and work out all the kinks before rolling it out on their other products.

    1. “I think the first reason is more likely. The sensor involves very complex manufacturing and it would make sense to roll it out on one product, such as the phone, and work out all the kinks before rolling it out on their other products.”

      And that is one of the things that differentiates Apple from others, they don’t release things just for the sake of being first or whatever. They actually wait and release a great product with purpose and quality rather than just half assed rushed junk.

    1. Agreed. If it was SO HARD to produce, and they had SO FEW of them, then why did they put them on their largest selling product? They ran into supply problems didn’t they?

  3. Apple doesn’t think that way, has never thought that way, and hopefully never will never think this way. They don’t withhold cool technology to differentiate and synergize and monetize or any other of that bullshit.

    The only real content here is the discussion of the economies of scale and riding the cost curve, which is likely the real answer.

  4. If the current iPad Air slips into the $399 slot, it will sell like crazy. Perhaps better than a $499 touch ID, A8 model (unless the base model is 32GB). I’m not sure Apple will do it though. Similarly, $299 for current retina mini would also sell well. A $199 original mini would drive most competitors from the low end. I find if hard to believe Apple would do this, but who knows, they might.

    1. I doubt we will see a $199 mini. Regardless of how old it is, the mini costs a certain amount of money to produce and a 2-year old iPad mini isn’t any cheaper to make just because a more advanced model is in production. Apple doesn’t do loss leaders. Every product they make has to earn a certain profit or it is discontinued, and that is what I have learned from Apple after watching them since the great return of S.J.

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