iPhone 4S and NFC

Submitted on Oct 13, 2011, 12:21 a.m.

This link to Macworld was sent to me by a colleague - "iPhone 4S: Why no NFC chip?". I think it's another excellent example of editorial polyfiller. How can a market be created for NFC technology - without handsets that support NFC? I think the decision not to include NFC technology in the iPhone 4S was based on two factors. The first, was that Apple was likely catering to the wishes of the two major US mobile carriers - AT&T and Verizon.  NFC technology punches another large hole in the influence mobile operators will have over handset technology and services. And almost all of the major carriers around the world have tried at some point to leverage their network and account/payment/billing infrastructure in order to tie customers to their business. Remember when you were going to be able to buy a coke from a vending machine by just entering your mobile number? And then there was M-Pay in the UK. Most schemes have failed - but the mobile operators are still trying. And they've had a huge influence on handset design as a result. Verizon refused to sell handsets that had WiFi initially. What they want is for everything to go through their network - and ideally their billing infrastructure too. But they stink at it. WiFi allows handset owners to bypass the mobile network, and so will NFC. So this is probably a last gasp by the mobile operators in the States to try and continue to own the 'smart-card' (aka SIM card) and see if they can come up with an alternative scheme using existing hardware/infrastructure in the meantime. The second reason is that Apple probably don't mind having a "significant feature" to add to their upgrade path.