FORTUNE -- Here's the challenge: To be incorporated as part of a regular start-up routine, fingerprint ID systems must be at least as easy and dependable as the pass codes they are meant to replace.
Which is why I finally gave up trying to use Apple's (AAPL) TouchID system on my iPhone 5S.
Not that I'm a good test case. After 64 years of paper cuts, match burns, scarring and general wear and tear, the ridges on my left thumb are nearly worn off. I have trouble registering my print on TouchID, and have to re-register it nearly every day or my iPhone will forget who I am. (I gather from the comments on Apple's support boards that I'm not the only one having these problems.)
I mention all this because a report Monday in SamMobile claims to have confirmed that Samsung's next flagship smartphone -- the Galaxy S5 -- will not only feature a fingerprint recognition system like Apple's, but one that will work better than TouchID.
"Apple and HTC have already implemented fingerprint sensors into their devices," writes SamMobile's FaryaabS, "but none of their mobile devices use the sensor to its full potential, or like how Samsung is using in its upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5."
I can't dispute this. There are hundreds of competing fingerprint recognition systems -- 670 participants registered 2,810 algorithms in this year's Fingerprint Verification Contest -- and we don't know which (if any) Samsung is using.
But when Apple purchased AuthenTec for $356 million in July 2012 -- more than it paid for any acquisition since NeXT -- the biometric company was the world's No. 1 provider of fingerprint verification systems. Its clients included Nokia, LG, HP, Motorola and Samsung.
Even then, Apple waited more than a year before it was ready to put a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S.
It's possible that Samsung's technology is way ahead of Apple's. But given the timing, it feels like they're playing catch-up.
UPDATE: I received many suggestions for how to improve my TouchID experience, almost all of which I had already tried. Repeatedly. But I hadn't heard of Steve Gibson's "overtraining" technique (explained step by step here). It's quick and, so far (24 hours later), pretty effective. Fingers crossed.
Get out your handkerchiefs for Apple's annual holiday "home movie."
FORTUNE -- What would the holidays be without a sentimental Christmas ad from Apple (AAPL)?
This one, titled Misunderstood, is a movie about a movie that was shot on an iPhone 5S and presented via Apple TV and AirPlay by the fictional Harris family's teenage son. The title is not explained. Perhaps it's a given that all teenage sons feel misunderstood, especially MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 17, 2013 7:37 AM ET
In six hours Thursday, the visitor counter on this website grew by more than 14,500.
FORTUNE -- Some time before midnight in New York (1 p.m. Beijing), China Mobile's (CHL) Beijing reservation website switched to attached image, strongly suggesting that the world's largest mobile carrier -- with more than 750 million subscribers -- was getting ready to offer Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 5S for sale.
"Something worth waiting for," reads the banner, according MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 12, 2013 6:28 AM ET
By Dec. 4, the iPhone 5S was available in all 60 U.S. stores surveyed by Piper Jaffray.
FORTUNE -- In early October, two weeks after Apple (AAPL) released the iPhone 5S, the device was out of stock at 92% of the 60 U.S. stores surveyed by Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster.
Piper Jaffray has been checking the stores twice a week ever since, and on Monday Munster announced in a note to clients MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 9, 2013 9:35 AM ET
Kantar reports that nearly half were switching from other brands, chiefly Samsung and LG.
FORTUNE -- When Apple (AAPL) released a pair of new iPhones in September, demand was so lopsided in favor of the more expensive (by $100) model that many on Wall Street assumed that the pricing on the cheaper iPhone was some kind of blunder.
The iPhone 5S continues to outsell its more moderately price sibling -- by three to one in MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 2, 2013 2:05 PM ET
Who says Apple priced itself out of the Indian smartphone market?
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) launched the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C in India three weeks ago -- a month and a half after their initial release in 11 other countries.
Early reports suggested that the new iPhones were off to a strong start, but it wasn't until I read The Indian Express' follow-up Monday that I thought to see if there were MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 26, 2013 11:07 AM ET
Mordy Tikotzky's iPad Air tracker showed which stores had them in stock. Apple killed it.
FORTUNE -- I confessed my fascination with Mordy Tikotzky's Apple-Tracker.com when I posted a story about it earlier this week.
Tikotzky had written a handy little widget that steered customers to the Apple Stores in or near their Zip Code most likely to have the newest iPhones and iPads in stock.
It also offered Apple (AAPL) watchers like me a MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 6, 2013 7:47 AM ET
Dueling reports Monday on how much better the high-end model is doing than the low.
FORTUNE -- When the iPhone 5S and 5C went on sale last month, there was every reason to suspect that the more advanced 5S would draw more early adopters to the Apple (AAPL) stores than the 5C. And indeed, by one launch-day line count, the iPhone 5S buyers outnumbered 5C buyers that first day by 20 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 14, 2013 8:40 AM ET
Only Samsung's Galaxy S4 is outselling the iPhone 5C, and only at Verizon and T-Mobile.
FORTUNE -- "Our September surveys indicated very strong initial sales and back orders for the iPhone 5s and strong iPhone 5c sales at the four tier-1 U.S. carriers and also in international markets."
So wrote Canaccord Genuity's T. Michael Walkley in a note to clients Friday that included the first published chart of where Apple's (AAPL) new MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 6, 2013 6:10 AM ET
A week after its release, the iPhone 5C has gained some ground on the more popular 5S.
FORTUNE -- The early preference for the iPhone 5S over the iPhone 5C has faded a bit in the week since their release, according to a report issued Friday by Localytics, a Boston-based mobile analytics firm.
As of Sept. 22 Apple (AAPL) was selling 3.4 units of the iPhone 5S for every 5C. By Sept. MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 27, 2013 11:00 AM ET
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