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!

 

New iPhones’ Impact on NFC

Today, Apple announced the upcoming release of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. There are descriptions and discussions about the two iPhones to be released. Unfortunately the revelation that neither phone will have NFC capabilities is a disappointment for the NFC ecosystem.

Despite this fact, iPhone Touch ID, a new fingerprint sensor feature for authentication, may have significant implications for the NFC ecosystem. One of the values that NFC provides is security. Common practice is to save sensitive information in the Secure Element (SE).  For example, ISIS, a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, uses this practice for secure mobile payment. With this approach, permission is needed to access SE. Permission is granted after a successful authentication from carriers.

Touch ID has the potential to be utilized as an authentication option for accessing SE. Moreover, Touch ID could limit the need for using UICC/SIM based SE. UICC/SIM based SE is an operator-centric option, since carriers control the access of the UICC/SIM. It provides ultimate security because no one can access it without a carrier’s permission. 

Many stakeholders in the NFC ecosystem want to bypass carriers’ control over SE. Touch ID has the potential to shift our perspectives on security and authentication. What are your thoughts on this possibility?

iphone5

Apple and NFC

If you purchase a song from iTunes, you decide to give it to your friend as a gift, Apple will provide a method to deliver the gift using Near Field Communication (NFC)!

Surprised? Apple doesn’t offer NFC, at least not yet.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an Apple patent application on August 15th.  The patent was titled “Media gifting devices and methods,” It specified how iOS device users purchase and consume digital content with the NFC transaction. See details here.

On September 6th, Apple filed for a European patent about devices with fingerprint scanner and NFC. See details posted by Patently Apple. The European patent application is derived from a U.S. patent application filed in September 5th and titled “Electronic Device with Shared near Field Communications and Sensor Structures”. It described a dual mode operation as follows “When operated in a sensor mode, the sensor circuitry may use the conductive structure to gather a fingerprint or other sensor data. When operated in near field communications mode, the near field communications circuitry can use the conductive structure to transmit and receive capacitively coupled or inductively coupled near field communications signals.” (see picture attached)

This is not the first time that Apple has filed for a patent based on NFC technology. What does this tell you about Apple and NFC? I expect that NFC will continue to expand with or without Apple’s participation. And Apple’s participation is very likely to surprise everyone.

applePatent

TechEd and WWDC reflection

Last week the TechEd North America conference was held in New Orleans and new features for Windows 8.1 were presented. One of these new features is called tap-to-pair printing. When you put an NFC tag on an enterprise network printer, you can tap your Windows 8.1 device within 4 cm of the printer in order to establish connectivity so that you are able to print. There is no need to look for a correct printer on the network. Enterprise printing is made easy! This is a good demonstration of an NFC use case.

This week, iOS 7.0 was announced in Apple’s Developer conference. Nothing was mentioned about NFC. It makes me wonder about Apple’s NFC business strategy. When I attended the App World in London last October, vendors were already making iPhone 4 NFC sleeves in order to test mobile payments. Will the peripheral device becomes a trend for the iPhone, when Apple does not make an NFC enabled device? What are the risks and opportunities for the peripheral device makers that are investing in the NFC iPhone capability?

Yesterday Microsoft released a free app that will enable Office 365 for the iPhone. After the app is downloaded, you need to subscribe to Cloud based Office 365. That’s an up sell for iPhone users to adopt Office 365. It looks like the Microsoft business strategy is to generate revenue from the subscription model and extend the user base beyond the traditional Windows user. Tapping into the iPhone market seems to be a profitable path. Do you think NFC vendors should be committed to step into the similar path and offer iPhone NFC capability?