Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology supported by a large ecosystem. The key players consist of telecom operators, manufacturers (readers, tags, smart cards, semiconductors, and consumer electronics), mobile device OEM, system integrators, banking/ financial institutions, merchant consumers, education, research, and government. The whole ecosystem is working hard to promote the technology.

During the Final 4 weekend (April 5-7), AT&T incorporated NFC into our Fan Zone experience to educate consumers about NFC technology. We realized that a lot of people who own NFC-enabled phones don’t know the benefit of the technology and look forward to providing education in this area.

For app developers, we hosted our first NFC Hackathon, where five teams completed their NFC apps based on the education provided. This white paper offers more information on NFC technology, NFC tags, and Open Mode mobile app development.

Is this a good time to develop NFC apps?

Here are some stats you might want to consider deciding if this is the right time for NFC apps:

  • On April 10, SIMalliance data showed that 30 million NFC-enabled SIMs were shipped in 2012. That is an 87% increase over 2011. The strongest NFC SIM markets were Japan/Korea (21 million) and Western Europe (6 million). Note: SIMalliance’s membership represents approximately 90% of the global SIM market.
  • In March, ABI Research published a new report titled “NFC Devices, Strategies, and Form Factors: Update and Roadmap.” The analyst firm anticipates that the number of NFC-enabled devices in use will exceed 500 million in 2014.
  • NFC-enabled devices continue to be released with innovation.  HTC First is one example. A 4G LTE-capable and NFC-enabled smartphone, this device is uniquely designed around Facebook Home. Facebook Home is a mobile app that enables users to connect with Facebook from the moment they turn on their phones — even while using another app.

WIMA, a leading global conference and exhibition dedicated to NFC, hosted its 7th WIMA NFC MONACO in Monaco on April 10-12. Solutions and products were showcased on an innovative exhibition floor. Sessions highlighted current case studies around the world, offering a clear view of where NFC is today. It’s an exciting time to explore NFC use cases, potential, and ideas for supporting the ecosystem.

What NFC applications have your business experienced first hand? What potential does this technology offer for your business?