Is NFC the next great App?

nfc - near field communications on nokia mobile phones in china - unlock worldwide

nfc - near field communications on nokia mobile phones in china - unlock worldwide

Near Field Communication … Again?

Reports from Beijing suggest that NFC (near field communications) is the subject of great interest to those who predict future services that are integrated into our mobile phones. NFC permits the transfer of data from your mobile phone to another NFC empowered phone OR to a device such as an automated airline check in system.

NFC is considered more convenient than Bluetooth which once replaced it, due to its low battery consumption and NOKIA intends to reintroduce its use in forthcoming Symbian and Windows phones. In  a previous post also reported that the new Blackberry Bold 9900 and 9930 would also come with NFC integrated technology.

What is interesting is that NFC is not new technology; it was slower than Bluetooth and required closer proximity, hence its demise. However, in swapping data from your phone to, let’s say the check in at a busy airport, the low energy consumption and a built in need to touch the receiving equipment, offering a safeguard against accidental transmission, are transformed into benefits. It is easy to envision your phone replacing your swipe card at the ATM,  your employers security access system or the season ticket on public transport.

Other predicted uses include tapping on your friends phone to transfer a photo, payment in a car park, as a feature in playing games or  tapping on an enabled retail display to download a coupon. In fact trials conducted in China appear to have included paying on public transport , at convenience stores and supermarkets.

This initiative has led some analysts to view Nokia’s future in a new light. By partnering with important players in the huge Chinese market (Nokia has 200 million mobile phones in use) they could be ahead of their competitors and begin to rebuild their once dominant position.

A word of caution; integration of these services into everyday commercial life will not happen overnight, requiring considerable investment by merchants and institutions.  It may be some unexpected convenience that launches it into everyday usage with the bigger benefits evolving later.  So while Near Field Communication appears to offer long term benefit it may also be overtaken by “the next great app”. NFC remains a maybe.