Today was a very good day for the (possible) standardization of NFC (near field communication) as an interface for mobile engagement.
The Windows Mobile Summit (WinMo8) announced that all new Windows Mobile phones will be enabled for NFC, for both payments and non-payments (payments tends to get the press). But, it’s the non-payments we’re focused on – The seamless way Users will tap and intuitively engage with objects in the world around them.
When coupled with Google/Android (and it’s Motorola prospects) for NFC, this creates a fairly daunting “standard,” within mobile, which generally is the land of fragmentation and no-standards. Apple is the lone hold out at this time (we’ve given up on RIM).
NFC matters because it allows for a near thoughtless, unfocused gesture that can be repeated easily by individuals. It doesn’t require someone to pause, open an app, or focus. It’s a gesture that can (literally) open door locks, make a payment in a restaurant – Or, open up apps or mobile web sites (or, launch media files) — That range of uses is what makes it fascinating….it’s what makes it…perhaps…ubiquitous.
Hopefully, Microsoft will release their promo video they used at today’s presentation of “an average family in a restaurant” where NFC was heavily featured — The other area that is wide-open and unexplored territory will be creative uses to use NFC between NFC tablets (such as the SURFACE device) and mobile screens – Imagine being able to encode segments of an online video with NFC triggers for 2nd screen (or,maybe this is 2nd-to-3rd screen) engagement?
So, while Windows Phone has a tiny market share today, the SURFACE announcement earlier this week, plus the WinMo8 announcement today shows that Microsoft are not just trying to tread water, they are trying to regain a position they lost sometime ago…when coupled with other companies making commitments to NFC, that “trigger” should start to become commonplace within 12-18 months. At which time, a whole new world of mobile content engagement and experiences will be required.
Some will say this was or is possible with QR codes. We “believed” in QR codes about 2 years ago, then saw them applied in such haphazard ways that we believe consumers gave up on them before they even had a chance (Noting, even Microsoft TAG started segueing to NFC about 6 months ago). The industry thought and effort that’s going into NFC is far more substantial than what happened with QR (in the West)…we’re very bullish on NFC…we think it opens up a range of opportunities for mobile content that (sorry…can’t help it)…to date, has gone untapped.