Apple: No need for NFC today

NFC isn’t needed to give iPhone owners what they need today, Apple’s Phil Schiller has told AllThingsD, in an interview following today’s launch of the iPhone 5:

Apple VP Phil Schiller
SCHILLER: Believes it’s not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem

Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller said that Passbook alone does what most customers want and works without [replacing] existing merchant payment systems.

It’s not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem, Schiller said. “Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today.”

We’d love to hear what readers think of Apple’s point of view. Has the iPhone maker missed the point about the wider opportunities NFC offers beyond payments and ticketing? Or is Apple right that it is still too early for NFC to be a necessary feature in iPhone 5?

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9 comments on this article

  1. I reached the conclusion that NFC should probably be an external device such as a cradle, key charm or sticker instead of embedded technology.

    Here in America, we saw Verizon disabled Google Wallet NFC and we also saw how Google disabled NFC to not allow third party access.

    The problem with Passbook is merchants have to setup cameras readers which is not out there! Also many of the barcode scanners that read from a mobile phone is not cheaper than an NFC reader nor is there the ability to encrypt the transmission.

  2. I can understand Apple, but when NFC will be out and widely used tomorrow or the day after, older iPhones are not ready to use this new technology. This will slow down the adoption. In the mean time, until cool services like loyalty cards, boarding passes, Coupons and mobile payment will be done via NFC, people could already get in touch with the new technology and learn how easy it is to use it, don’t they?

    Furthermore I share the opinion above, why should merchants roll out expensive camera based readers for scanning QR codes? That would be more expensive than NFC readers, which are widely available already. It might be only useful for travellers because at airports readers are widely available.

  3. Have you seen how many contactless terminals are out there waiting for the mobile wallet revolution to happen! The NFC infrastructure is growing at breakneck speed. And loads of ad agencies are implementing NFC campaigns now like vouchers, loyalty campaigns and the like. The only reason why Apple didn’t go NFC is because they are way behind in this field. 450million iTunes subscribers and no iTunes contactless terminals to tap your phone against. There are loads of partners out there they could combine forces with to make this happen but they want to keep their subscribers to themselves. Come on Apple! Let us free!

  4. NFC is there and ready for deployment. Why not insert a $2 NFC chipset/antenna for loyalty, payment and transport in a $600 handset ?

  5. this is another shame for Apple! Like not including a (micro-)SD slot in a MP3-player or waiting so long with Bluetooth (and only implementing the audio profile and not file transfer). And in the mean time telling the world that Apple always will provide its customers with the newest technology available (Steve Jobs in the Flash – MP4 debate). Why must there be a current problem first that can be solved by NFC, Apple? Just put in the chip and some support in iOS and all those developers you are bragging with will come up with lots of nice “solutions” or just fun apps!

  6. I would be prepared to bet that most iPhones shipped in the past 2 years have NFC capability inside them. The fact that Apple have not “switched it on” is indicative that they have not figured out how to control the applications that might use it, or at least generate revenue for themselves from these applications.

  7. It’s telling that the absence of NFC on the new iPhone 5 hasn’t been much of a surprise to those of us who have observed Apple’s progress in this area. It would have been great if Apple had included NFC; but is that really going to obstruct the march of NFC? I don’t think so.

    The vast investment in NFC mobile contactless payments and services is not going to wane. And with the NFC-enabled Android, Windows 8 and RIM handsets dominating the smartphone market NFC is going to progress at a pace without Apple. This could be Apple’s loss.

    Global brands such as MasterCard, Visa, Barclaycard, Orange and Google have committed, and will continue to commit millions on developing NFC capabilities.

    Contactless terminals are being deployed across the retail industry as we speak in readiness for mobile contactless payments.

    Apple is taking a different route with mobile contactless payments at the moment and that’s fine but it does mean that iPhone users will miss out on one of the other big benefits of NFC which is the ability to interact with marketing campaigns that use NFC tags embedded in posters and product packaging. This sort of activity will initially drive the use and demand for NFC services before payments take off as mainstream.

  8. One of the reviews I read below hit the nail on the head. Apple wants to capture people and revenue. Why give it to credit card companies when they can collect the fee themselves. Unfortunately, Apple is going to be as successful with Passbook as they are with iTunes. It will work. People will use it. But it is never going to gain critical mass. iTunes is used more to upload CDs or import songs purchased as MP3s. Most people don’t want to be locked into Apple ecosystems that don’t interact with most of the world. Passbook will be nice to use at the gym, when boarding a plane, when shopping at a favorite store like Starbucks. But few people are going to buy gas with it or pay for hotels (unless they are in a frequent sleeper program). It’s boutique, but will not provide mass appeal.

  9. This is clear departure in strategy from a company that despised market research and focus groups (remember the famous – users dont know they need it unless they have it in their hands)..

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