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Bonjour from the NFC World Congress—Day 1 Conference Recap

VDC is back at the NFC World Congress in beautiful Nice, France. With a larger roster of delegates and exhibitors participating in this year’s conference, the event was moved from Sophia Antipolis (one of the suburbs surrounding Nice) right into the heart of the city for 2012. The first day of the Congress was dedicated to panel discussions and presentations, but thanks to a robust, well-rounded lineup of speakers, there is no shortage of interesting NFC-related insight to share. We will be certain to report the highlights of tomorrow’s session on the exhibition floor, but for now here is a review of some of today's presentation highlights:

  • Microsoft demonstrated its NFC-enabled Windows Phone 8 during an engaging presentation led by John Skovron, the product manager leading the Windows Phone initiative. Long story short: both the phone and the Windows OS look very promising. While Microsoft’s earlier forays into consumer electronics are probably best forgotten (see: Zune mp3 player), we think the Windows Phone 8 (especially the OS) is a solid product. If consumers are willing to give it a chance, we think this device/OS could win share in the smartphone market and drive consumer-level adoption of NFC. Furthermore, we think Microsoft has its collective thinking in the right place when it comes to NFC applications. During the presentation, discussion surrounding near-term application opportunities focused on non-secure (i.e., non-payment) use-cases. We look forward to seeing the Windows Phone 8 solution launch soon.
  • Nokia, Microsoft, Device Fidelity and GSMA kicked off today’s proceedings with a discussion of the implications of Apple’s ongoing absence from the NFC ecosystem, a timely topic considering that it was approximately one week ago the company announced definitively that the iPhone 5 would not include NFC. While this announcement was certainly disappointing for many NFC ecosystem stakeholders, the tone of today’s conversations was decidedly upbeat and resolute. As we suggested in our post-iPhone 5 announcement blog, it seems that Congress participants are generally viewing this development as a call-to-action to educate end users (both consumer and enterprise) about NFC.
  • Samsung discussed the impressive sales performance of its Galaxy line of NFC-enabled smartphones. The company expects North American shipments of smartphones (all brands, not just Samsung) during 2013 will have an NFC attach-rate of 23%, up from approximately 8% this year, while global NFC smartphone shipments will nearly double, reaching 183 million units. Of course, only time will tell if these forecasts prove true, but regardless, they demonstrate the major growth potential that remains in the market for NFC-enabled smartphones and complimentary NFC solutions.

We have another busy day tomorrow filled with meetings and seeing the best new NFC products and demonstrations the exhibition floor has to offer. Check back here tomorrow for another update from the Cote d’ Azur. Au revoir for now!

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