With 2012 now well underway and CES 2012 having come and gone, it feels like now’s the perfect time to take a look at one of the big predictions for 2012’s that’s on everybody’s lips at the moment, NFC. NFC or Near Field Communication, enables smartphone users to access instant digital data from another NFC-enabled device or tag, simply by placing the smartphone near to the tag’s NFC sensor. The tag then reads the request and instantly sends content between the tag and the device – be it a Foursquare-esque check-in or digital download, such as an mp3 or mp4. On the surface, this technology may seem very similar to what we are already used to seeing with Bluetooth and QR codes, and in all fairness, it is, very similar. However, looking deeper into the capabilities of NFC technology reveals some incredibly interesting uses, opportunities and possibilities that we are sure to see come to life later in the year, especially when considering the incredible rate at which the number of smartphone users globally continues to grow. Throw into the mix that more than half a billion phones sold between 2012 and 2015 are expected to include NFC technology built-in and the topic starts to take an interesting turn.
As the NFC rumours circulated throughout the digital and tech PR circles towards the end of last year, the CES 2012 event was one that continued to be highlighted as one of the key landmarks for seeing just how many smartphone brands were planning to release devices including the technology throughout 2012. The answer: quite a lot. In fact, it is expected that most – if not, all – smartphone brands will be launching phones with NFC technology built-in to their handsets this year. For example, one of the first to be announced at CES was the new Sony Xperia S – a HD smartphone already working alongside a number of pre-set NFC smart tags due to be released alongside the phone in March this year. Of course, this is just one example, but an indicator nonetheless that we will be seeing this kind of technology in action sooner in the year rather than later.
Interestingly, not only are we starting to see the number of smartphone brands integrating the technology into their handsets grow, but we are also seeing the interest in NFC of big name brands such as Google, MasterCard and Visa increasing too. Indeed, all three brands are already closely aligned with the development of NFC technologies as a new means of electronic payment. Google’s, suitably titled, ‘Google Wallet’ is a great example of the way we could soon be using NFC technologies as part of our day-to-day transactions. In short, Google Wallet is an Android smartphone app that essentially transforms your handset into a virtual wallet containing information for your credit/debit card to enable payments straight from your smartphone. It is thought that as this technology develops Google Wallet will be able to store multiple information including car keys, subway tickets, boarding passes, credit / debit cards and gift cards – all of which will be instantly accessible at the wave of your smartphone.
For brands, NFC presents a fantastic opportunity to engage with fans and users in a whole new way, creating a rich user experience that integrates smartphone technologies with everyday interactions. As the number of smartphone users continues to sky rocket, brands and social media agencies need to be able to tap-in to this by providing more and more unique ways to utilise smartphone technologies (such as NFC) to connect with fans. Moreover, with the introduction of NFC into handsets expected to take off throughout the year, the race is now on for companies to present a dynamic overall brand experience that utilises traditional, digital and social media platforms like never before. Whether it be real-life NFC-enabled Facebook ‘Likes’ or automatic location-based digital downloads; one thing’s for sure: before the end of 2012, thanks to NFC, our smartphones will be an even bigger part of our everyday lives. Who’d have thought that was even possible?
About the Guest Post Author
George Guildford is an Account Manager at digital PR agency Punch Communications, utilising over 7 years marketing, PR and social media experience working across a wide range of clients from the music, gaming, retail, tech and smartphone industries.