The iPhone and NFC issues

November 21, 2013

Apple’s Latest iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C Lack NFC Support, Market Setback Expected

The sphere of influence of the iPhone apparently extends into industries that develop products for mobile payments. Mobile credit card processing and various merchant services, including various point-of-sale applications, are also influenced by Apple’s decisions. The close relationship between these technologies is most visible in the market for mobile payments.

Specifically, there is a lack of near-field communication, or NFC, support inside of the iPhone5. The absence of this capacity could delay the standardization and adaptation of associated applications. This restriction is already creating waves, which are rippling throughout Western Europe as well as North America; however, Asian markets are not expected to sustain any substantial impact.

Apple’s main competitors fully embrace NFC technology, and the mobile credit card processing market is also doing very well. This situation certainly begs the question: Is this a part of a larger marketing strategy, or did Apple simply drop the ball when developing compatibility for merchant services?

Facilitating mobile credit card processing and other instant transactions do not constitute small potatoes, so it is worth taking a closer look at the situation.



Motives and Methods

Two items seem to be present and capable of driving the decision to scrap the addition of NFC compatibility within the iPhone. First, it is possible that Apple might be attempting to undercut certain competitors. Since these products are targeted at initiating a new method for making fast and secure mobile payments, there could also be a conflict of interest lurking in the background. Apple could also be attempting to establish a position of influence in the market for merchant services by changing the company tune only when outcry for their support reaches a high point. In addition, Apple has elected to develop the iPhone technology by using iBeacon, which employs similar transmission functions, but it is done via Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE.

Analysts observe that this single decision could put certain product developments for processing mobile payments behind for at least two years. Retailers have certainly responded by delaying their financial commitments for relevant point-of-sale devices and supporting products. Since several alternatives to NFC are already in development, it seems like a stretch of the imagination to assume that this move is indeed strategic or even deliberate. Perhaps Apple is simply unresponsive to the various market dynamics created by its key decisions; however, this decision could also be motivated by their desire to control the technology and shift market dynamics with iBeacon. Only time will reveal the details.

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