Frustration over my ISIS enabled iPhone

I am getting a bit tired with my ISIS enabled iPhone. The case added weight to my iPhone. Most of the ISIS transactions didn’t work well. The only good thing is that I am getting free drinks from Jamba Juice until the end of March. Other than card emulation mode, none of the other NFC modes work. I can’t tap an NFC tag or an NFC enabled phone with the case to get the full benefits of NFC.  I think I might switch to an Android phone. Most of the Android smartphones are NFC enabled.

Looking back at the history of NFC’s development, I find the situation kind of ironic.  We had an NFC enthusiast, Google, demonstrate NFC card emulation mode’s value by implementing mobile wallet. Telecoms disabled the capability from the phones because they were developing their own mobile wallet solutions and wanted to control SIM-based NFC. So Google dropped SIM-based NFC, the most direct and secured way to protect security and privacy with Secure Element, and implemented HCE (Host Card Emulation) based mobile wallet. Even though it’s not as secure as a SIM-based solution, the HCE solution is beyond the control of telecoms.

Control provokes innovation by requiring creative solutions to market dominant. History repeats!

On the other end, Apple has been filing patents for NFC communication technology but still hasn’t added NFC capability into their devices. Their blue ocean strategy is to find a market space with no competitors. At the same time, their actions have slowed down the adoption of NFC technology and pushed BLE forward. Apple is also exercising a control with its vast user market. Again, innovation will emerge to escape the control. History will repeat.

NFC Solutions Summit 2014 will be held in Austin, TX on June 2-4. I trust that the NFC ecosystem will demonstrate strength and creativity on mobile wallet solutions through collaboration and innovation. Extreme early discount to purchase a ticket is available until April 2nd. Reserve your seat now!


iBeacon vs. NFC

“Will the lack of iPhone support for NFC kill NFC?” This LinkedIn NFC Group discussion thread has been going on for the last 20 days.  It is a good discussion with various opinions on NFC’s future. One topic that came up was “iBeacon vs. NFC”.

Beacons are small wireless sensors that can placed inside any physical space. An iPhone supporting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) with iOS7 becomes an iBeacon that can receive data from other beacons. It also can detect other iBeacons when they are nearby. An iBeacon also serves as an indoor GPS with built-in indoor mapping capability.

Since BLE’s connectivity range is 10 to 50 feet, it creates a location mapping zone for iBeacon. When a customer steps into an iBeacon zone, indoor mapping will indicate the location of the customer and retailers can use this information to send customers special promotions or personalized messages based on their shopping histories. Retailers know exactly where you are and how long you stay there; even if you are in the restroom. Your movements are transparent in the iBeacon zone.

NFC connectivity works within 4cm (1.57 inches) between NFC-enabled devices or an NFC-enabled device and a tag. It’s a very short distance contactless technology and it’s more secure because of the short distance. You might be tracked when you tap but not when you move around.

I think, even if Apple decides not to adopt the technology, NFC will have its own market for many applications as demonstrated in Europe and Asia. At the same time, iBeacon apps might be released quickly since the APIs are easy to use. Our new generation is so used to share their life publically through social media that they might enjoy using the apps; especially gaming ones; regardless of privacy issues.

Want to learn more about NFC? Please check out my newly released book “NFC: Near Field Communication Explained” and attend WIMA-NFC & Proximity Solution Conference.