Can 2012 become the year of Near Field Communication? Maybe NFC can become the next must have feature for smartphones, satisfying consumer demand for pairing, paying and play.
Here's an article I found about the introduction of NFC into the smartphone arena in 2012, written by Ewan Spence of Forbes.
Following on from the success of adding a camera to a phone, someone added an MP3 playerâ€¦ then GPSâ€¦ and these new features turned the latest phones into must-have device. As smartphones mature, there are fewer jumps in technology that will add something new to the mix, but opportunities are still out there.
Many in the industry believe that NFC will be the next desirable feature that eventually becomes a must-have feature of a phone, and there's lots of activity around these radio communication chips. Three areas that I'm keeping an eye on for innovation this year are pairing, paying, and play.
Let's start with pairing, because I love the idea of making life easier. Rather than a brand new use of NFC technology, Nokia's 360 Speaker uses NFC to make life easier. This external speaker for you smartphone's MP3 player works over Bluetooth, and while you can start up a regular Bluetooth connection, go through the handshaking and security code details, NFC allows another choice. All you do is come into the range of the two chips (say by gently tapping the handset to the speaker) and the Bluetooth pairing is made automatically.
Mobile payments are another growth area – partly because it is a shiny new idea, but also because it allows mobile carriers to start up another revenue stream. They already have monthly billing just like the credit card companies, so why not push that out and have people use their phones to make payments. NFC here is analogous to the chip in a chip and pin card, and in partnership with payment companies, terminals are rolling out across the UK for trials on contactless cards and with a number of mobile phone handsets as they gather data and work out the bet way to promote this to their subscribers in 2012 and beyond.
And then there's play. One you let developers hack around with NFC and give them permission to play with these new toys, amazing things can happen. Getting them excited about NFC leads to chatter online, which leads to applications, which leads to user excitement and engagement, and more opportunities for developersâ€¦ and you have a nice virtuous cycle.
It's all about priming the developers to start that off, so I'm expecting to see lots of NFC marketing at hacker events and special one day events like Isobar Create London next month. As their web invite says "We'd like you to join Isobar Create London (together with O2), the UK's first accelerator event that will challenge people to pioneer new and innovative uses of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology."
NFC will become a part of the smartphone ecosystem over time, and I'd like to see it here sooner rather than later, even though realistically it will take another two years for people to work through contracts and buy a new handset that is NFC enabled. With the industry laying all this groundwork in advance of that adoption it won't be long before supporting NFC in a handset becomes as important to the manufacturers and retailers as the once-cutting edge idea of adding a camera to a phone.
Here's the link to the full article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2012/02/17/how-do-you-make-2012-the-year-of-near-field-communications/