There has been a lot of drama around what Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will do with respect to the company's Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology in its upcoming premium iPhone, widely referred to as the iPhone 8.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities recently said that Apple intends to abandon its original plan of embedding a fingerprint scanner underneath the display of this new iPhone.
Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman said in a recent report that Apple is "testing an improved security system that allows users to log in, authenticate payments, and launch secure apps by scanning their face," with the aim of replacing Touch ID altogether.
Gurman also said that "Apple has faced challenges integrating the Touch ID fingerprint scanner into this new screen," echoing Kuo's comments about Apple's technical difficulties with the in-display fingerprint scanner, though not saying outright that Apple intends to scrap the tech.
A new research note from analyst Andy Hargreaves (via Barron's) suggests that Apple hasn't yet given up on integrating Touch ID into the display of its upcoming premium iPhone, but time is running out.
The window of opportunity is nearly closed
Hargreaves said that he and his team believe that "it would typically take 12 weeks from placement of fingerprint IC orders to full volume production of iPhones."
This, the analyst says, means that "if Apple is able to solve its fingerprint problems and place orders for fingerprint ICs before August, it would likely be able to reach volume production in late October or Early November."
By way of reference, "IC" stands for "integrated circuit," which is just a fancy term for "chip."
However, if Apple doesn't get those orders in before August -- at least, if you trust Hargreaves' analysis -- then the iPhone 8 could either be delayed significantly or could ship without Touch ID altogether.
Interestingly, Kuo said in a recent note that because he doesn't expect the iPhone 8 to incorporate the under-the-glass fingerprint sensor, he no longer expects another production delay. In fact, Kuo said that he "previously projected the ramp-up [of the iPhone 8] would be postponed to late October or later."
This Fool is going with Kuo
At this point, if Apple hasn't worked out the issues with the under-the-glass Touch ID scanner, it seems like it'd take a miracle for this technology to mature enough in under 30 days for Apple to be able to include it into the upcoming premium iPhone.
I can't help but agree with Kuo's prediction that the upcoming premium iPhone simply won't have Touch ID.
Under that assumption, it's going to be critical that Apple make whatever alternative biometric authentication method that it includes (e.g. the facial recognition method that Gurman reported on) an even more robust and easy-to-use technology than Touch ID is.
This certainly isn't going to be easy, but hopefully -- for both Apple customers and its stockholders -- the company manages to find a good solution to its Touch ID dilemma.