Near Field Communication (NFC) is struggling to live up to expectation. Major tech firms including Google and Samsung; financial organisations like Mastercard – and most mobile operators – have quite a lot riding on it. But it just hasn’t quite kicked on as hoped.
Some startups, such as NearBytes, have sniffed the weakness, and insist that NFC isn’t the right solution. NearBytes for example, is a more inclusive technology: it just uses sound to transmit data between devices – something all smartphones are capable of, not just NFC-ready models. (Indeed is already well-positioned for creative ad campaigns).
One problem for NFC, is consumer education. So over in Australia, at the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports, Google have been trying to put that right. They’ve installed massive screens which NFC users are being encouraged to ‘tap’, to take control of the content and activate free WiFi for downloading music, film and other content for their flights.
Another fundamental part of the problem for NFC is device penetration: at the end of 2012, just 3.3% of phones had the technology. that figure is expected to be 33% by 2017. There’s too much riding on NFC for it to be doomed – but it seems we’re in for a bit of a wait ’til we see its true potential.