OSLO (Reuters) - Next Biometrics Group <NEXT.OL> will deliver at least 1.2 million fingerprint sensors to Dell Inc in 2016 for the U.S. firm's range of notebook and tablet computers, the Norwegian company said on Tuesday.
Next Biometrics last week said it was about to announce a "tier 1" customer.
"We expect the number will increase further, and minimum 1.2 million sensors in 2016. We expect it to be higher, but it's too early to say how much," Chief Executive Officer Tore Etholm-Idsoe said during an investor presentation.
Etholm-Idsoe told Reuters that the price in the Dell order was below $5 per sensor.
"In general, prices vary from below $5 to up to $10 depending on the order," Etholm-Idsoe said.
Next Biometrics is working on about 200 projects in traditional use of fingerprint sensors on doors, tablets and notebooks, and expects more deals to follow, the CEO added.
The company's price per sensor was a key factor in the deal, Next Biometrics said.
"The short answer why Dell picked us is the size and the price," Etholm-Idsoe told the investor conference.
"We are today the only supplier to deliver to mass markets at an acceptable price level... If we compare apples to apples then we are 70 percent cheaper than our competitors," Etholm-Idsoe said.
Next Biometrics uses its own thermal technology for sensors while competitors, such as Sweden's Fingerprint Cards <FINGb.ST>, are using silicon wafers.
The next stage in fingerprint sensors is expected to be what the Norwegian company calls "next enable", which should deliver sensors to small devices and smart cards.
"These are small products where you don't have the possibility for a pin code or a password. The challenge is to cut the price so it's worth it for the application," Etholm-Idsoe said. He declined to give a timeline for a possible breakthrough in the market segment.
By 0936 GMT, Next Biometrics' shares traded 1.9 percent higher on the Oslo Bourse. Year-to-date the share has risen 234 percent.
(Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord, editing by Terje Solsvik)