Rumors have it that iPhone 5 will support NFC. Last week Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 will support NFC. This month Samsung started shipping the Galaxy S III with NFC and an optional set of NFC tags.
NFC has been a standard since 2003, but until now, there’s been limited hardware accessible to consumers.
What is NFC? Near Field Communications is similar to RFID in it enables a device to communicate with another device or tag in the vicinity.
Some likely applications include:
- Managing your phone settings by location – For example, you could place a tag at your office desk that changes your phone settings to forward all calls to your deskphone or change your ringtone volume.
- Instant payments, just by waving your phone near the register.
- Exchange or “downloading” data from another device or a tag placed in a poster, coffee cup or product packaging.
- Printing from your mobile device
What do marketers need to know:
NFC is just one more spoke in making the mobile phone the hub of your personal communications, finance and entertainment universe.
Over time it will likely replace QR codes. It’s easier and faster than taking a picture.
Marketers will make their apps even more location sensitive to the point where they are contextually sensitive. For example, an app could tell you not only that you’re in a movie theater, but what seat you’re in.
Depending on the strength of field, NFC apps could trigger push notifications and coupons based on proximity.
Because the range is very short it’s relatively secure and private. It’s up to the consumer to turn on or off an NFC supported app, or give permission to share data.