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“Will the iPhone 5 have NFC?” This is by far the most frequently asked question we hear when speaking with large enterprises considering NFC adoption. Many assume Apple’s near-term support of NFC is inevitable, as if it is a required response to competitors such as Samsung, RIM and Nokia integrating NFC into a number of handsets already available today. Certain NFC-related patents filed by Apple over the past two months have further boosted the belief that an NFC-enabled iPhone is inevitable. VDC has considered this issue carefully, and while we find it virtually impossible to make a high-confidence prediction about Apple’s intentions, we have identified a number of reasons Apple could continue in its current holding pattern, or perhaps completely pass on NFC:
Considering the NFC-related patents the company was recently granted, its massive database of iTunes accounts (over 200 million as of Q1 2011), and the credit card information associated with those accounts that it could leverage to enable a payment application, we think that Apple will ultimately get involved with NFC. However, whether Apple does so with the iPhone 5 or 6, or perhaps another device entirely is anyone’s guess. The iPhone 5 introduction is expected sometime in fall 2012, so until that time, there will be no certain resolution to the ongoing mystery that is Apple’s position on NFC.
The uncertainty surrounding Apple’s stance on NFC is just one of many complex issues faced by stakeholders in the nascent, but rapidly growing, NFC market. To address the numerous and multifaceted questions and concerns enterprises have regarding NFC, VDC is launching a new research program called Voice of the Customer: Near Field Communication. This multi-part series will identify and analyze key trends in the NFC market from the perspective of B2C enterprises, NFC hardware/solution vendors and consumers, and will draw on extensive primary research of enterprises and consumers currently using NFC. Please contact us to learn more.