Apple acquired mobile security company AuthenTec last year so that it could stay ahead of the competition, most notably Samsung.
Incorporating the smaller company's fingerprint-sensing technology into its flagship product (the iPhone) has proved to be a slightly more difficult challenge.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo wrote in a note to investors this morning that Apple's next-generation iPhone — which has been referred to, unofficially, as the "iPhone 5S" in the press — may debut later than expected as the company works through the challenges of incorporating sensors for the technology in its handset.
Specifically, Apple is trying to engineer out the interference created by material inserted beneath the cover glass, Kuo wrote. It faces similar challenges with the next generation of the diminutive iPad mini, which analysts predict will carry a high-resolution "Retina" display.
My CNET colleague Josh Lowensohn adds:
On top of those claims, Kuo notes that Apple's plans for a lower-cost iPhone are also getting tripped up by manufacturing difficulties, specifically around the casing. Apple is said to be reverting back to plastic for the back of the iPhone, which it used in the first three iPhone models before switching to glass, then metal.
All of this is unconfirmed speculation, of course. But as ZDNet capo di tutti capi Larry Dignan noted in July, it's all about security in the enterprise (which is where Apple has made surprisingly solid inroads) and fending off bids from Samsung and a possibly resurgent BlackBerry.
Apple has demonstrated in the past that it doesn't mind waiting to launch a product until it gets it right. Let's not forget that radio interference has plagued the company in the past. It is reasonable to think that this mentality isn't still the case today.