NFC, short for near field communication, is a technology we’ve been writing about for years. The story goes like this: Instead of pairing devices via Bluetooth, just tap them together to initiate a data transfer. Instead of paying for something using cash or plastic, just tap your phone on a cash register. Instead of doing X, Y, Z the hard way, do it the easy way with a simple tap. So why hasn’t NFC taken off? We saw a handful of devices ship in 2011 with NFC inside, and this year we’re expecting even more, but that still doesn’t explain why no one is excited yet about a technology that offers an infinite amount potential.
Enter Samsung, who today is introducing “TecTiles”. That’s the fancy name they’ve given to NFC stickers, something that we saw Sony introduce six months ago at the Consumer Electronics Show. They went with “SmartTags”. Anyway, these glorified sticky sheets of paper will let you do things like join a WiFi network, make a phone call, open a certain web page, and even post a status update to Twitter or Facebook. The problem? They cost $15 for five tags, and as far as we know the tags only work on Android phones.
What happens when Apple launches an NFC enabled iPhone? What happens when Microsoft announced an NFC enabled version of Windows Phone? What about those millions of NFC enabled Symbian devices that are already out on the market? Will these tags do the same things on those respective platforms? We severely doubt that. We also hate to say it, but we think NFC isn’t going to take off until you know who puts it inside you know which smartphone.
Truth be told, we don’t think NFC is going to take off for at least another year or two. Normally that would make us sad, but hey, we’ve learned to appreciate all the cool things our phones already let us do today.
[More info on Samsung's microsite dedicated to TecTiles]