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Why should you care if the next iPhone has a fingerprint sensor?

The top rumourmongers say the new iPhone will have a fingerprint reader built into the Home button. Some people think this could revolutionise the smartphone, but I am not one of them.

My scepticism has nothing to do with Apple or the iPhone. It's just that I have seen at least three iterations of fingerprint readers come and go since 1980. The last one showed up on various laptops and some sort of security device.

Disclaimer: There was a similar cycle with tablets but Apple cracked the formula to make them successful. The smartphone itself was similarly cracked to change the category's direction. Thus, it is possible that Apple has some new idea or use for the fingerprint sensor.

We know thieves target iPhones. People get mugged just for their phones. Maybe Apple is envisioning that with a fingerprint sensor, the phone would become more secure because it would not operate without the proper fingerprint ID.

But this raises many questions too. How many people will be allowed to use a specific phone? What happens if you want to sell the phone? What happens if the sensor fails?

There's also the potential for a virtual payment system that everyone supposedly wants. If fingerprint verification is involved, the transaction can be made with minimal effort. Apple can take this one step further by partnering with a bank to create a network of payment subsystems in stores. Pass the phone over a sensor, input your fingerprint, and the deal is done.

But if theft protection and virtual wallet functionality is all there is to it, this is going nowhere because it is nonessential. Do you absolutely have to buy a new phone for this? I don't know about you, but swiping a credit card through a reader is not that hard for me. Now if the sensor could, say, tell your blood pressure or blood sugar, that would be cool. But still not worth buying a new phone.

Instead, if there was an arrangement over in the US with the TSA for security line exemption and expedition using the iPhone's fingerprint mechanism, then I'd get a new iPhone immediately. And President Obama has gone out of his way to praise Apple's innovation, so why not give the company a real American edge with a special arrangement?

Carl Icahn met with Tim Cook and the next thing you know he bought a billion dollars' worth of Apple stock. I'm assuming there was some sort of wink, wink, nudge, nudge information exchanged and part of the conversation surely addressed the iPhone and this fingerprint technology.

But if all the technology does is simple security and some payment stuff, then I don't see the appeal of such an investment. We'll find out soon enough.