Near field communications, NFC, is about to be a big deal. NFC is a very short range radio link which can read passive tags such as RFID tags on items. Two active devices can share data similar to syncing devices. An example might be transferring contact information or sharing a document. Rather than repeat a lot I’ll let you read the Wikipedia entry here. Other interesting applications include letting your phone be the key for your car or allowing your phone to use stored credit card information to check out at the supermarket. NFC is key to the phone becoming the central convergence device. As I keep saying, convergence is big; very, very big. It will take longer (think many years) but the phone will become your house keys too. The idea is to eliminate all of those separate items you load into your pocket and wallet. I am not claiming that everything will be eliminated but it will be thinned down. This is powerful stuff and I expect to see the phone s credit card becoming mainstream soon. There has been speculation that iPhone 5 will support NFC. If it doesn’t then iPhone 6 definitely will. Ice Cream Sandwich, the upcoming unification version of Android, hs NFC support including something Google calls 0-click. This shows that Google is actively working on transparent usage models. The potential, and the danger are large. Security will be an issue with the usage model having to make sure that things that you don’t want to happen don’t happen inadvertently. For instance, you might not want someone to have your phone number. Still, the attraction will be overwhelming. Take a look at this “How to NFC” presentation from Google I/O 2011. It’s a long video so, if you aren’t a developer, jump to the 6 minute mark but be sure to watch through the 17 minute mark.
This is transparency coming to your life and it’s just a start. What Google is showing is the basic enabling interface technology along with a few demo applications. Developers will take this and run with it.
The financial impetus for this is huge. Think PayPal. What if every credit card transaction went through the iTunes store or through Google with Apple or Google taking a very minor piece of the financial action? The numbers are staggering. With huge dollars at play expect a long term battle to be your NFC transaction supplier.