Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why the next iPhone Probably Won’t Have NFC

The next iPhone, the “new” iPhone or iPhone 5, will be one of the most high-anticipated launch of Apple’s mobile history (but isn’t that always the case with each passing year?), and bloggers, analysts, and tech pundits will be spewing out rumors, innuendos, and speculations about what we can expect.  Well, I’m going to chime in at this time:  no NFC.

So, if you’re going to expect your next iPhone to be your digital wallet so that you can leave the wallet at home, like I have been wishing for since I found out commuters in Japan can use their phones to pay for fares, then we are heck out of luck.

Here’s my reasoning.

If the next iPhone’s supposedly bigger screen and new form factor augmented by iOS 6 and a more robust Siri (hoping there could be more than Apple let on during the WWDC keynote) isn’t going to sell the next iPhone, I doubt having NFC will make much of a hay at the launch event.  At most, Passbook will get a mention and a demo but that’ll be about it.

And all of the above mentioned (possible) improvements will be enough to form lines at Apple stores again.

Furthermore, I doubt NFC is going to be a major selling point in the next couple of years.  Just as the various Android manufacturers that shipped NFC-capable handsets.  There just aren’t enough places out there that supports NFC-based commerce today.  And by some reports, they don’t always work or the store clerks have no idea what they are for.

Simply put, the infrastructure just isn’t there yet.  And as huge as mobile payment will be for Apple’s race to becoming the first trillion-dollar company and convenient as it’ll be for consumers, it just isn’t all that sexy for users this year.  Plus, Apple isn't going to put out a feature like NFC that consumers won't be able to use.

If you’re an average mobile warrior, and Apple asks you what do you want this year from the new iPhone, what would you want: better Siri, bigger screen with LTE or NFC.

Here are the main points again:

  • Siri still a selling point and it will only get better
  • Bigger screen
  • LTE
  • iOS 6

We might see NFC in the iPhone next year after Apple has sorta beta bested Passbook this year.  For now, we’ll just have to settle for just about everything else we’ve been asking for from Apple.  Poo-hoo!

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