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Profiling Near Field Communication

Posted in New Technologies, The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on November 26, 2010

Web 2.0 Summit (San Francisco, 15th November 2010): Google CEO Eric Schmidt announces NFC integration in the Gingerbread release of Android.
In the same summit, RIM CEO, Jim Balsillie re-iterated “we’d be fools not to have [NFC] in the near term”.
According to reports Apple is also working on the NFC payments domain and would be coming up with their payment product sooner.
In July 2010, Nokia’s Anssi Vanjoki stated that all Nokia smartphones will have NFC from 2011
AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless also have announced the launch of ISIS, an initiative to develop a single platform that will enable their combined 200million customers to make mobile payments using NFC with a launch planned over the next 18 months, with a nationwide rollout planned by 2013.

User Acceptance of NFC usages

Near-field Communication (NFC) is characterized as a very short-range radio communication technology with a lot of potential, especially when applied to mobile handsets. Imagine users using the cellphone to interact with posters, magazines, and even with products while at the store, and with such interaction initiating a request or search for related information in real-time. Other usages of NFC include the electronic wallet to make payments using handsets, the same way as with a credit card. NFC makes all this is possible. But NFC is still a young technology. That said, NFC-enabled handsets are being introduced into the market, and deployments and pilots around the world are occurring.

NFC is a short-range high-frequency wireless technology enabling devices to exchange data. It has long promised to enter the mobile phone industry and catalyse many new usage scenarios, from proximity payments and transactions to device pairing and data exchange. But despite gaining considerable traction in Japan, where at least 60 million devices are enabled for proximity payments, NFC has struggled to meet expectations elsewhere. This is despite the technology’s steadily growing presence outside the mobile domain in transportation (for example, London’s Oyster card and San Francisco’s Clipper card) and credit cards (for example, Visa’s payWave and MasterCard’s PayPass).

A comparison of short range communication technologies

The mobile phone’s unique position as the most pervasive item of consumer electronics makes it the logical device for NFC to establish ubiquity. While security remains a concern, the maturation of the mobile phone into a highly personal converged device that contains sensitive personal data and performs many other functions means potential social barriers to usage have largely been overcome. In that regard, NFC represents the basis for the next wave of innovation in the mobile space. This goes beyond the utilization of NFC for payments and transactions, the roll-out of which will be slowed by the associated complexity of commercial agreements and the requirement for consistent payment platforms. Therefore, simple applications that extend the versatility and intuitiveness of the mobile phone are likely to be what captures consumer imagination and drives adoption in the near term.

Examples include:
• Touching phones and other devices to share content, contact details or synchronize data. NFC would be used to initiate data transfer over Wi-Fi or another technology.
• Tapping an accessory such as a headset or speakers to establish Bluetooth pairing.
• “Checking-in” to a location for services such as Facebook and Foursquare. NFC could also enable the tagging of friends by touching their devices.
• Selecting applications to be purchased from a wall display in a store.
• Getting applications, vouchers or product details by touching an advertisement.

The boundless diversity of the scenarios enabled by NFC, coupled with the intuitiveness of “touch and go”, means that NFC represents a technological step as significant as the introduction of Wi-Fi. The ease with which NFC can facilitate data transfer means it is likely to play a central role in the pursuit of “convergence”, as it enables the pairing of devices and seamless movement of content from one to another.

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