NFC Coming to the iPad 2 and iPhone 5? Who Cares! It’s What They’ll Introduce With It That’s Exciting
January 25, 2011 | Andy Boxall
Bloomberg are quoting several analysts and consultants, who are all saying that Apple are gearing up to add NFC technology to the next versions of the iPad and the iPhone. NFC, if you don’t know, stands for Near-Field Communication and is probably best known as a way to turn your phone into a digital wallet.
Aside from NFC being something that has been around for a long time, it has also been buzzing around Apple for a while too, and we covered a similar story in April last year. As interesting as NFC is, and as potentially helpful as it is, it’s still only being explored by mobile manufacturers rather than being embraced.
As many will already know, NFC payments are popular in Japan, where the Softbank network will be introducing special iPhone NFC stickers to enable users to pay with their accounts, plus Nokia announced midway through 2010 that all their 2011 devices would come with an NFC chip built-in. Most recently, Google’s Gingerbread build of Android contained NFC code and the Nexus S featured a (currently read-only) NFC chip.
The trouble with NFC adoption is not with manufacturers sticking the chips inside phones, it’s with retailers and merchants gearing themselves up for accepting those payments. Without this, it’s all a little bit pointless. This is where the whole NFC/Apple story gets interesting, as adding an NFC chip into a phone is nothing new, and more than a little bit boring.
Imagine the iPhone 5 announcement for a moment, and that NFC is indeed introduced as a new feature. So what? What are you going to do with it? The answer is nothing, which is as anti-Apple as you can get. If Apple are to introduce NFC, they’re going to have to do so with various partners and announce them at the time. They’ve got to turn something old and uninteresting into something new and exciting, that will benefit all their users.
A good example of how they’ve accomplished this previously is with video-calling. An old feature which nobody used was turned into a new feature for every iPhone user to enjoy, complete with flashy new name! Even if nobody uses it still, they turned a forgotten mobile feature into something everyone was talking about – especially in the US.
So, if and when Apple do introduce NFC chips in their devices, that’s not going to be the story – it’ll be what they announce you can do with it that will be.