Research: NFC Driving Mobile Device Hardware Security

By Jessica Binns, Contributing Editor — June 27, 2012

Security always has been a top-of-mind issue within the mobile device industry. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) gained the attention of Wall Street bankers because of the financial industry's need for high levels of data protection and security, along with the convenience of mobile connectivity. Athough most of the recent movement in the mobile industry focuses on software security through detection and preventative applications, there seems to be little happening with embedded mobile device hardware security.

Valued at approximately $430 million in 2012, the mobile device hardware security market will be worth $1.9 billion by 2017, according to ABI Research. The bulk of the market is attributed to embedded chip security consisting of embedded chip security technology – such as ARM's TrustZone – and other semiconductor companies' security solutions. Revenues generated by secure elements for near field communication (NFC) and biometric sensors are also factored into the mix, though relatively small compared to embedded chip security. This will change, however, in the next two years.

"The primary drivers for embedded chip security are increasing demand of mobile payment transactions, digital rights management, enterprise protection, and control access to the device," says Joshua Flood, senior analyst, devices, applications & content. Additionally, semiconductor companies will add further security features onto ARM's TrustZone technology, such as advanced security options for content or platform protection.

Presently, revenues generated from NFC secure elements are a small segment of the mobile device security market. In 2011, only 7 percent of smartphones had NFC capabilities. Nevertheless, an increase in point of sale (POS) transactions, such as purchasing coffee, transportation vouchers, or even cinema tickets, will increase the number of NFC smartphones. It is estimated that more than 60 smartphone models with NFC capability are available now. Within the next two years, NFC security will account for half of mobile device hardware security revenues.

ABI Research's report, "Mobile Device Security," provides details on the market for biometric sensors in smartphones, tablets, PCs, and laptops.

It is part of ABI Research's Enterprise Mobility Research Service.

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