This entry was posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 at 12:29 and is filed under Analysis & Commentary, Cellular. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
NFC is the new big thing in mobile. No, I’m not referring to the National Football Conference of the NFL here in the States, but rather Near-field Communication. Much like RFID – another acronym for Radio Frequency Identification – NFC will allow devices to pass information to a near-by reader.
Google already employs this in its mobile operating system Android, as does Nokia in a handful of its handsets (see image). The most commonly used technology used for NFC is in fact that other lesser-known acronym, RFID. Found in key fobs for “Pay Pass” as well as Google phones to your passport, RFID has become the standard hardware for NFC. While many have become concerned with RFIDs security vulnerabilities, manufacturers have taken to it to like crack due to its affordability and its it-just-works aspect. While reports have already floated around between job offers at Apple and rumors of NFC devices being tested in the field by the iCompany, what Apple will choose is not clear.
One thing is clear, however: NFC is the next big thing.
With its heavy use in social media from services such as Google’s Lattitude, FaceBook’s Places, to foursquare and Gowalla, all which basically are employing NFC, we have seen just how popular this technology is already in its infancy.
A start-up based in Southern California wants to be the first to take shopping to the fullest with your iPhone and other devices to pay for things like groceries, shoes, coffee, and lumber. MobilePayUSA is currently working with major merchants and financial institutions in making payment with your phone a reality. MobilePayUSA is an immediate, simple, low-cost and viable alternative to NFC sidelining security concerns and costly equipment for the merchant. I spoke to founder and CEO Randy Smith about his company’s visions and use of NFC last fall, and he hopes to eliminate plastic (credit cards) and paper (receipts) with MobilePayUSA. Smith told me that the idea is that no one really forgets their phone anymore, but wallets still seem to sometimes not find their way into peoples’ pockets. With MobilePayUSA on your phone, you won’t have to worry about having your wallet, credit card, check book, or cash. As an added bonus, Smith said that reward cards we all love to lose will be built into the application and instantly give you discounts at the register and track your points for you with every purchase. Smith hopes to have a public beta available soon.
MobilePayUSA may beat Apple to the punch with its application, but Apple doesn’t seem to want to just go after the eWallet feature. No, like anything Apple, it wants to be the only one doing what it’s doing. It wants to go far beyond “There’s an app for that.” Think car security. Think home security. Think computer security. Think whereever you need a key – or password – and you’ll begin to understand just how huge NFC can really be.
Take a look at the tech landscape and you’ll find GM’s onStar app for nearly every 2011 model in iTunes. Unlock and lock doors with a push of a button. Start your vehicle with a push of a button. Lock and unlock your front door with one of the many wireless dead bolt locks available today. Turn on or off your home lights. All from your iPhone. But the trick is, you need to actively do something with your device.
Apple will remove that from the equation and, much like how keyless entry works on a Mercedes with its fob, you could simply walk up to your front door and open it…as long as your iPhone is on your person. Or go into the garage and open your car door and simply push the Start button to power up the engine. (I can say power up now since hybrid and electric vehicles are more common. )
This is would make the iPhone 5 the reason to ignore Droids and Windows 7 phones and all the others.
It’s not hard to see this technology coming to vehicles soon, either. Remember, Apple and Volkswagen openly admitted a few years ago that it was working closely on iPod integration and rumors even had an iCar in development before the global economical crash. It would be easy to bring auto-locks and authorize vehicle operations with an iPhone 5 to the masses with VWs bread-and-butter Jetta and Golfs. Since VW owns Audi, Porsche, and Bentley, upscale customers would be able to brag to their friends how their phone can start the car. Heck, how cool would it be to sit in a Lambo and just drive off without every grabbing for a key?
I could see GM jumping on board as well due to its onStar app already being in use. It wouldn’t take much for GM to integrate NFC with onStar. Between GM and VW, you would have 2/3 of the most sold vehicles in the world NFC ready for the iPhone 5.
Boy, wouldn’t that make Steve Jobs smile?