Near-field Communication (NFC) is a very-short range (proximity) radio communication technology introduced a number of years ago, but it is not until now that we are going to start seeing adoption and interesting applications that uses NFC. One is mobile payments, but there is much more than that. NFC is just a type of interaction, and it is about enabling for convenience and ease of use, and its true value will all depend on the application itself (that leverages NFC).

Some believe NFC will take off, while others believe that it is just noise, and not interesting. But what is going to happen is that once people get to use it, people are going to expect it. The adoption of NFC is going to be similar to what happened with “touch” screens on mobile. Many argued that it was not necessary; Nokia even had touch-based handsets many years ago before the iPhone, but failed to capitalize as it was so focused on its one-handed, key-based navigation as the best kind of navigation. But the convenience of touch, as shown by the iPhone, changed the world, literally, and how people interact with mobile handsets and tablets. The same will happen with NFC, which basically is a proximity-based ‘touch’ and it is mainly about convenience and security.

Some of the uses for NFC, as previously mentioned, include mobile payments, but NFC can also be used to interact with the objects and places around us; this latter use-case is what really excite me about the NFC. It can be applied to the “Internet of Things” and in some use cases, to Machine-to-Machine (M2M).

Since NFC is getting some steam now, I am taking the opportunity to inject some thoughts on NFC, M2M and the Internet of Things.

  • It is important not to equate the Internet of Things (IOT) to Machine-to-Machine (M2M). Related to this see: M2M vs. Internet of Things
  • Most, or many of the usages or interactions through NFC will be non-payment, such as with ‘things’ and “places” to learn or perform an action automatically; to me, “things and places” around us are all part of the IoT; those being directly connected to the Internet, or indirectly via the handset as a gateway to the Internet
  • NFC will get a boost soon; thanks to Apple, Google, credit card and payments companies, and even the operator. Expect companies like Square adopting NFC big time. Related to this see Google, PayPal See NFC Mobile-Payment Boom
  • There will be fragmentation due to SIM/operator-control vs. 3rd-parties (Apple, Google, etc.). There is a lot of potential for the operator to lose the game, similarly to how it lost on the app side of things, when 3rd parties just implemented their app store/markets strategy around the operator and outside the operator-deck, and won; will history repeat itself? It is very likely. Related to this see Mobility in 2011, the year of NFC

You can read more about NFC by visiting the NFC page or searching NFC on this blog.

Related to this see How would the Internet of things look like if it were driven by NFC (vs RFID). (Open Gardens blog)