Apple iPhone NFC: Once formally announced, it’s game over for the rest of the industry

Is there nothing that the iMachine cannot conquer?

No.

Not when you’ve got almost every analyst, every journalist, every blogger, every outlet of significant influence drinking the Apple Koolaid.

That’s not to say that Apple’s ‘Koolaid’ is wrong. One stroll along University Avenue in Palo Alto demonstrates that the mobile industry is — from the perspective of the Western marketplace — entirely owned by Apple, Apple and thrice Apple. Oh, and HTC/Samsung/LG/etc. And BlackBerry.

The focus is almost totally ‘i’, with Android snapping along behind.

Remember, Android is behind Apple. Just in case you needed a reminder. Yes there are more Android devices being activated in America than iPhones, but that’s just heathen talk. It’s because of Verizon. Right? That’s been corrected now. So pay proper attention to the flawed logic please and stop asking inconvenient questions that are obviously wrong.

Stay with me.

Those who fold their arms, stamp their feet and scream, ‘but Nokia sold almost half a billion handsets last year‘ are failing to grasp the imperial reality and might of the opinion machine.

Apple owns the opinion machine at the moment. Indeed, in recent months we can see that the opinion machine — a kind of wisdom-of-the-crowds style movement fanned by some very, very smart public relations and marketing chaps — has begun to target BlackBerry.

BlackBerry, the wisdom goes, is the ‘next Nokia’. And Nokia? The opinion machine has spoken. Nokia is no more. And, er, the 110-million or so handsets shipped last quarter, just… they … move along. And the fact BlackBerry is the number one smartphone in a gazillion markets? I told you. Stop asking questions.

Abroad doesn’t matter.

In the world of the opinion machine, it’s all about ‘AmericaUK’, where the iPhone rules.

Despite my often epic rants about the ‘Fisher Price iPhone‘, I do own a whole host of iPhone and Apple products. indeed I’m typing this on a Mac Pro Tower and 2x 27″ monitors. I am an Apple fan.

So having said all this, let me get to the key point of today’s post: NFC.

One of the mobile industry’s Next Big Things is definitely NFC payments. The fabled ability to swipe your iPhone at Starbucks. Take note though — paying via an application isn’t any good. It’s all about swiping. This is the bee-in-the-bonet of the mobile industry, especially amongst the opinion machine faithful.

I’ve written before that once Apple integrates NFC into their devices, it will be game over for every other provider in the marketplace. Of course, there’s a good few billion customers out there who, in the short and medium term, will never be able to afford an iPhone. Those people are not relevant when it comes to the opinion machine. The rest of the world is irrelevant. America is a massive market and that’s where the opinion machine lives and is focused.

Alas, whatever the opinion machine says resonates across the planet.

This is why you’ve got a considerable amount of people in India wanting an iPhone. It’s why there’s a huge waiting list for iPhones amongst China’s wealthy middle class. Everybody wants a piece of the Apple joy. It’s cool. The device is cool. The company is cool. America is cool. Yes please.

Are you in need of a reminder just how ‘huge’ Apple NFC will be? You need to check out Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry’s piece in Business Insider (“HUGE: You’ll FINALLY Be Able To Use Your iPhone 5 and iPad 2 As Wallets” — the caps emphasis is from the publication — and yes they did, seriously, prefix the headline with the word, “HUGE”).

The true power for Apple is the ability to exploit and manipulate this influence. For influence, you might read ‘reality distortion field’ — but only if you’re feeling cynical.

The moment Apple formally announce NFC on-stage — and demonstrate the awe-inspiring amazingness that comes with the new improved iPhone 5, the market will be hankering for it.

Everyone with an old iPhone will all of a sudden feel… outta-date.

“What do you mean you can’t pay for your Starbucks with your iPhone 4? How rubbish!”

It looks like some kind of Apple iPhone NFC service is firmly en route now though. The speculation can end. Sort of. You see Bloomberg today reports that some chap by the name of Richard Doherty of consulting firm Envisioneering Group has had conversations with engineers ‘working on hardware for the Apple project.’

One can only assume that Apple have authorised this commentary. It’s that or the chap would already have been silenced by a dozen lawsuits. Apple has sensibly declined to comment to let the opinion machine continue it’s good work.

You can almost see the desperation dripping from the team over at MasterCard. Here’s a quote included in the Bloomberg piece regarding Apple NFC:

Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard, said the company is “running the world’s fastest payment network, and that doesn’t need to be re-created.” MasterCard sees NFC “as an opportunity to partner with organizations” and already has run NFC payment trials around the world.

Alas, MasterCard, it’s not your game any more. It’s Apple’s game. I’d imagine MasterCard will get a look-in as a payments processor for iTunes provided you don’t do anything to upset the Apple cart. ;-)

This quote is an excellent indication of the irrelevance of everybody else as far as the opinion machine is concerned.

Apple NFC — if actually launched — will become the standard in America overnight.

I’m so impressed.

When others have failed — or simply just held trials — Apple conquers.

You can see it working, can’t you?

An on-stage demonstration. An amazed audience of technology geeks with mouths open in ecstasy, cheering while the Apple spokesperson struggling to explain over the applause that the service will roll-out next quarter.

Everyone else in the marketplace who’s been playing with NFC should get ready to occupy the position of also-ran, even if they’ve been working on the technology for years.

Oh it’s going to be interesting, very interesting indeed.

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  • Mike42

    I integrated NFC into my E71 two years ago at a MoMo event, while the assembled Oyster/Mastercard/Barclays weiners were onstage pointing fingers at each other saying ‘I will when (s)he does’.

    How? By taking off the back cover and PUTTING THE BLOODY CARD UNDER IT.

    As Dean Bubley et al have said time and again, there is ZERO value in linking the NFC part to any online system via mobile. It introduces soooooooo many points of failure (battery, coverage, phone crashing, security, phone credit, roaming etc) that it is dumb dumb dumb to even consider it, when EVERY Oystercard HAS a top-up mechanism already. Working fine. Via a cornershop+cash or debitcard link. For millions of customers.

    Yes, swiping phone to pay for coffee/paper/burger is cool. The US/UK mobile industry needs to pull head out of ass and realise that the solutions are already there. Done. Sorted.

    But they are determined to weasel/crowbar their way into the value chain, whilst offering no value, only risk / user trauma.

    MNO NFC? pffft. Handset vendor NFC? pfffft.

    Sellotape your Oystercard into your phone and go wild.

    Major business opportunity: Replacement mobile backs that fit Oyster cards.

  • http://brendandonegan.wordpress.com/ Brendan Donegan

    I see it working, just like we’re all Facetiming each other and gagging for iAds.

    Errr…

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    He’s got a point ;-)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I don’t know about iAds but I’m using Facetime a lot myself…

  • http://benjam.in Ben Smith

    Untwist those panties just for a second though Mike…

    OK it’s not much cop for broadcast but what about receive? What about picking up a voucher / address / contact details from a poster / person / business card just by swiping you phone over it? … a bit like a QR code without all the tedious picture-taking …a bit like the Nexus S does.

  • Anonymous

    NFC? Apple? Just like Jeremy Clarkson used to “joke” on the BBC Top Gear show about showing an American car designer a road atlas and telling them about roads with bends and camber etc, someone needs to plaster every square inch of that myopic* town with a map of Japan. And one of Finland.

    NFC has been used, and used blindingly well in Japan for years now. It’s so bloody commonplace that not having the ability to use such services actually makes your day longer and harder in many many ways.

    Secondly, Nokia are shipping phones right now, right this very second, with NFC chips already fully integrated. I can’t seem to find anywhere right now the number of C7-00′s that Nokia have shipped but every single last one of them as NFC on board. A simple software update is all that is needed to turn it on.

    So if, or as it looks like now, when Apple roll this out, the “reality distortion field” will indeed be in full effect.

    *Myopic is the only word to use to describe these people now. Cynicism used to fall back on the the ” “reality distortion field” but quite honestly the use of that phrase is at best polite and at worst a waste of energy and time now. Myopic it is. And given that they could not handle having the word “philosopher’s” in the title of children’s book/film, I would imagine that being described as myopic will truly warp their brains.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I’m with you Gareth.

    But don’t dismiss the power of that distortion field. Here’s MG Siegler from
    TechCrunch:

    “It could change everything. It could transform Apple from the biggest
    technology company in the world, to the biggest company in the world,
    period. By far.”

    He does go on to qualify it — but my key point is that the ‘machine’ will
    keep it moving and ensure any mention of Nokia, Japan or the like is pushed
    to the irrelevant-never-worked zone (however accurate!).

  • Anonymous

    Does the basic meaning of words in the English language not mean anything to them any more? Are they really that myopic? Do they not realise how woefully out of touch with the rest of the world they are? If this is not the modern equivalent of the Emperors New Clothes then I don’t know what is. These people really are in the same place that GM, Ford et al were in the 1960′s. And I for one hope they go the same way. It couldn’t happen to a more myopic, and deserving, group of people.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I think you need to keep one foot in that reality and another in the
    real-reality…

    That TechCrunch post, for example, is being read by hundreds of thousands of
    people for whom it’s entirely plausible. I think if the TechCrunch post
    actually mentioned Nokia/etc people still wouldn’t care. It’s all about
    Apple.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I think you need to keep one foot in that reality and another in the
    real-reality…

    That TechCrunch post, for example, is being read by hundreds of thousands of
    people for whom it’s entirely plausible. I think if the TechCrunch post
    actually mentioned Nokia/etc people still wouldn’t care. It’s all about
    Apple.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, there is that Ewan! :-)

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/raymond.lee Ray Lee

    I would be interested in meeting you regarding NFC. There is an interesting train of thought that says Apple will fail in NFC due to it will never be accepted on the POS terminal.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/raymond.lee Ray Lee

    Actually that is not NFC and is saying you did this just shows the level of confusion around NFC.

    Oyster is not NFC. Mifare and Desfire are not NFC.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/raymond.lee Ray Lee

    You see, in a true NFC, the sort of stuff my colleagues and I deal with every day, you can manage 20 cards in an NFC wallet.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    What do you think of the proposed things we are hearing from Apple?

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    What do you think of the proposed things we are hearing from Apple?

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Up for meeting, Ray.

    I do think that’s certainly a potential. However I think the other thing that should not be underestimated is Apple’s influence in the space.

    How would you react if First Data announced a worldwide partnership with Apple, for example?

    Or if every Starbucks, GAP, Macys and Subway announced support immediately? The interesting thing with Apple is they polarise the market. It’s either their way, or the highway.

    Look at those who said iPhone/iPad would never be accepted in enterprise because you couldn’t ‘manage’ the devices and offer a corporate ‘build’. The senior executives just said ‘do it’. And it happened ;)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Up for meeting, Ray.

    I do think that’s certainly a potential. However I think the other thing that should not be underestimated is Apple’s influence in the space.

    How would you react if First Data announced a worldwide partnership with Apple, for example?

    Or if every Starbucks, GAP, Macys and Subway announced support immediately? The interesting thing with Apple is they polarise the market. It’s either their way, or the highway.

    Look at those who said iPhone/iPad would never be accepted in enterprise because you couldn’t ‘manage’ the devices and offer a corporate ‘build’. The senior executives just said ‘do it’. And it happened ;)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I really do think iFans see Android as a slight irritant!

  • Mike42

    Q: how many people *need* more than one NFC solution? These things tend to grow from civic transport systems into pay-for everything ones, from what I can see.

  • Mike42

    Agreed. Like CDMA and GSM are utterly different. But consumers don’t know or care.

    NFC solves the same problems as Oyster/others.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Logic vs Apple Reality….? Which is gonna win? ;)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    excellent contribution Lars!

  • Alex Kerr

    As others have already said, latest Nokia handsets have NFC in. And the thing you seem to miss Ewan is the effect Apple success has on it’s rivals -> it increases sales and usage of Apple’s rivals regardless of the iPhone, e.g. appstores.

    So (ignoring that Nokia had NFC before iPhone was a success, though it came to nothing), Apple will roll out NFC, it will be a minor success (as only a very small amount of people in the world will ever have iPhones), everyone will wake up to it and clamour for it in their phones, and Nokia at least will just issue a software update to turn it on (tho by that time they will doubtless have already done so).

    Who gets the rewards for this? I reckon Nokia more than Apple as Nokia sell many times more handsets generally.

    Apple and iPhone continue as the niche players they always have been and always will be.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/raymond.lee Ray Lee

    I have no doubt of Apples influence but I also see how hard it is to get a POS terminal into a retailer. I should be at MWC so may run into you there otherwise let’s try for something later in Feb.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I think there’s definitely a benefit for the rest of the industry, yes –
    everyone will be ‘lifted’ by Apple’s success (if it is a success).

    The real issue is what Apple will do with almost $60 billion in cash by the
    end of the year. And whether they’ll start gunning for the rest of the
    market or keep to their modest niche.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Aye. Let’s see if we can connect there Ray!

  • Anonymous

    Sure… but what happens when the iPhone falls out of fashion and no-one really cares about it anymore?

    Also you’ve completely ignored cost which, you know, might put a bit of a downer on the whole idea.

    Take of the green tinted glasses, Ewan. Apple are yesterday’s news.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, sarcasm, how lovely. We can’t get enough.

  • HD

    Couldn’t you just come to the NFC point directly rather than babbling your non sense “ohhh Apple this.. and Apple that..” stupidity

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Another valuable contribution

  • ceilingcrash

    Dude. You need to spend sometime outside the valley to clear your head.

    Your average consumer has never read a tech blog – he learns about technology when his neighbor shows him something. NFC will be everywhere, there are already chips secreted away in some devices.

    Like GPS. So chill.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Thank you!

  • Corrin

    Apple’s success rarely comes from being first – more from… well Ewan described it as the Opinion Machine and that’s as good a term as any… Apple will deliver mindshare with NFC, they will teach the mainstream about it and make it cool. There won’t be anything new to people familiar with the technology – most likely it will be a year or two behind. But I think Apple will deliver NFC to the world, not a gradual spread from Nokia.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    aye!

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Apple does

  • Conor

    O dear god your an idiot. Visa have NFC already, so do barkleycard in the UK… NFC has begun already… the iphone having NFC will be great as you will be able to use that as your Visa etc but not as an apple finance card.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Fat lot of good they’ve done with it

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