In 2011, the Motorola ATRIX became one of the first smartphones to use fingerprint recognition to identify users. However, the device did not identify enough data points and was not very reliable, Ford said.
"Right now, [fingerprint reading] is more along the lines of a novelty item, but the proof will be in the pudding," Ford said of an Apple introduction.
A fingerprint scanner would also up the cost of the iPhone at a time when Apple's market share is eroding due in part to less-expensive Android-based smartphones. In the second quarter, iPhone shipments grew by 20% year over year, less than half of the overall smartphone market, said Strategy Analytics.
Gold estimates that a fingerprint reader could add $10 to the cost of building the iPhone, which would translate into as much as an extra $40 to the end user.
Therefore, Apple will have to do much more than fingerprint recognition to justify the cost and wow potential customers.
"My guess is that it won't be a big success or differentiator, although it will probably get some buzz early on," Gold said.
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