So another week, another Apple-will-have-NFC story. I’m sure you’ve seen it.
One of the reasons I was so disappointed by the recent Apple keynote was the total lack of new hardware. One of the key points we were all looking for was Apple’s NFC strategy. The reasoning was pretty straight forward: It’s game over for NFC once Apple sets the strategy.
I think the marketplace is changing rather dramatically though and the company’s (apparent?) delay has enabled other players (especially Google) to charge ahead.
The previous thinking went like this: Apple = a sexy company. Everyone wants to work with them. So the moment they announce NFC capabilities linked to your iTunes account, everyone-and-their-dog will queue up to work with them. Because it will just work beautifully. And Apple will have arranged a few influential partnerships to convince just enough of the industry to think, “screw it, let’s use their standard”. One example I’ve floated a few times is some kind of tie up with a sports association — like the NBA or NFL, to ensure that every single one of their stadiums offer NFC-ticketing at launch with the iPhone 5. Or Starbucks. Or similar.
It’s a lot more murkier now that I’ve started to see PayPass technology all over the place and now that other incumbents are busy making hay before the Apple gorilla gets stuck in.
Yet I wonder if the majority of the market is either consciously or sub-consciously waiting for Apple to get on with it, still. You can’t ignore them. You simply can’t. Not only are they ridiculously influential, they’ve got the capacity, the reach, the credit card numbers, the loyal customers… not to mention 80 odd billion dollars to spend as necessary.
It’s going to be rather exciting to see what they propose. Meanwhile I’m delighted to see that the rest of the world isn’t standing still. RIM, for example, recently had some of its handsets certified by Mastercard for NFC transactions. I’m hoping we’ll see some stimulating news from Microsoft/Nokia on NFC soon as well.
Meanwhile I think there is an element of wait-n-see. Because if Apple are going a completely different way from everyone else, the market’s going to have to make a determination. Apple still carry so much influence that whatever they announce, it’s likely that’s going to be the way ahead for everyone. Right? What do you reckon?