According to diverse rumor mills, the already awaited iPhone5 to be released in September or October will be the first NFC Apple phone.
This is not the first time such an announcement has been made – since the first iCarte NFC reader launched in November 2009 by Wireless Dynamics which enabled (very theoretically) NFC transactions on iPhones, and since first Apple NFC patents issued for many years. But now, two good reasons underpin this prediction.
A common sense argument: Apple can’t stay behind and apart from the Google NFC wallet and Isis launch in the US, Microsoft announcement of Windows 8 natively including NFC capabilities, and the flood of new NFC phones coming to the market (already 1 million NFC phone in France alone), even if services are not (yet) there.
A more technical argument from a report by the 9to5mac.com website claims that the iOS6 code extracted from prototype iPhones shows that Apple may have planned to embed NFC chips and an ad hoc antenna. In addition, this finding seems consistent with the recent announcement during the last WWDC’12 Developer Conference of the Apple Passbook eWallet – a mobile wallet lite including the ability to run ticketing, couponing and loyalty applications thanks to QR code technology, known today as a competitor to NFC but also as a complement and a proto-NFC technology as well as traditional barcodes.
Some questions remain open: Will the iPhone5 be an NFC Mobile payment enabler? PayPass or PayWave? This feature means certification process and traditional business model and agreements which don’t fit very well with Apple’s usual MO. It also requires a large infrastructure of readers and terminals supporting services at merchants.
More likely, Apple have already, designed something new to bundle with NFC capabilities. Something regarding shopping (a kind of iShop with embedded Walmart, Carrefour offerings and NFC caddies in the real life?) more than pure payment (even if Apple have already registered around 400 million accounts through its Apple stores, iTunes and Apps online stores).