2014 was a big year for the Near Field Communication (NFC) industry. The once chilly ecosystem is now warmed by the radiance of the ApplePay sun. Now that Apple has adopted the technology, the term NFC is no longer a four letter word in technology circles. I no longer need to start my elevator pitch to investors, clients or prospects with a preamble about what NFC is and how it works. When I say NFC, people nod with comprehension rather than furrow their brows in confusion. Even as I write this blog while watching the final regular season Sunday of NFL action I am delighted to see the carriers, banks and Apple all marketing tap and pay features in advertisements. This is reason alone to celebrate, and I have to tip my hat to the marketing team at ApplePay.

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, the real fate of NFC as a consumer facing technology now rests in the hands of Apple. Conversations I’ve had with other NFC enthusiasts indicate that third-party API support for the iPhone’s NFC controller may come as soon as June 2015, although I suspect late 2015 is more likely. Those familiar with Apple’s development ecosystem frequently remind me how Apple introduces new features by first tightly controlling the hardware to ensure an initial positive user experience. By limiting developer access to new features, the risk of muddying the waters with poorly developed apps is removed. Developing NFC apps on Android that are tolerant to various models is not a trivial matter, and many early apps did a poor job of this and turned off a lot users that were potential early adopters.

Apple can ensure that the SDK it develops will be robust enough to facilitate a smooth user experience by gathering valuable feedback from users and developers alike. By having only one device configuration (antenna location, power of antenna, NFC chip maker, etc.), Apple can make sense of this feedback since it’s not confounded by various device models.

Another thing that stood out to me in 2014 was advancements in certain verticals. NFC interactive events and festival bracelet cashless payments spaces really made a splash in 2014. Intellitix has had great success in the cashless payments space, kudos to them, while many companies have emerged that specialize in interactive event kiosks and photocasting stations. One thing is certain: The ability to increase social media engagement metrics with frictionless wristband interactions that can seamlessly generate likes, tweets, and posts is a major selling point to marketing decision makers (more on this in my next blog).

On a personal note, we’ve expanded, grown and done a lot of cool projects this year for our clients and partners at TapTrack. In 2014 we delivered NFC solutions for applications in medical, security, access control, web apps, cashless payments and interactive marketing to name a few. The insights gained and tools developed during these experiences will serve us well in the new year that awaits.

Dec 28, 2014