Intel has joined the ranks of companies looking to profit from the rapid growth expected in the NFC market during 2012. In Q4 2011, the company announced a partnership with INSIDE Secure, whereby it will license several of INSIDE’s NFC offerings for use in its own products. Today, Intel revealed at CES 2012 that its new Ivy Bridge chipset supports NFC, particularly for payment and e-commerce applications. The company further disclosed that Ivy Bridge will be featured in up to 75 ultrabook devices that are expected to reach the market during 2012.
While ultrabooks may seem an unlikely form factor to support payment and e-commerce applications, these devices could support some potential use cases beyond the typical “tap-to-pay” functionality, such as auto-form population during online shopping as well as authentication of payment credentials in online transactions. Of course, these devices can also support other non-payment applications like pairing, peer-to-peer, info-tainment and access control, which will broaden their appeal to both consumers and enterprises.
Intel’s entry further boosts NFC’s near-term growth prospects. While exponential gains in NFC smartphone sales have been broadly expected in 2012 for some time now, opportunity for growth in other consumer electronics categories has been limited in comparison. Intel’s entry into NFC (and the numerous ultrabook initiatives using Ivy Bridge chips) rapidly expands the potential market for NFC devices in the immediate term. We expect that as Intel further integrates NFC into its offerings, the range of NFC device types and form factors available to end users will continue to expand.