Hugo Pinto

Innovation, Strategy, Technology, Data

Is IBM (finally) going to convince Apple to bring NFC to IOS?

The controversy has been ongoing about the “DoS” attack Apple has ensued against NFC (Near Field Communications). The explanation of protecting a walled-garden ecosystem and maintaining its native advantage along with the low adoption rates of NFC technology seems to have endured…until now.

The Apple – IBM enterprise partnership is clearly a genious move by both companies. Tim Cook was right when he said they perfectly complement themselves, but now its time to make concessions and I’m wondering if one of the biggest missing links in the IOS developer kit will finally be integrated – NFC.

NFC in Smartphones

I remember seeing the Apple’s POS working with iPhones in the Apple stores and marvel at the thought any of us could have something like that someday – not needing a passport to travel, an access card to enter your office building or a credit card to pay for your shopping.

Samsung and most of the other smartphone manufacturers have embraced NFC and clearly gotten more traction with eWallet-type products, but without the Apple brand’s byte, it never really took off (Visa has clearly changed routes, for instance).

The financial services industry needs the support of the device manufacturers, but Apple has its own agenda (nice piece from mobilepaymentstoday). Maybe now is the time for Apple to forge the one ring to rule them all, and launch a proper NFC kit, and maybe even turbo-charge their passbook app, leap-frogging the market (again).

NFC and IBM

This is exactly where IBM can pitch in. There has always been interest in using and applying NFC when possible for IBM – internally in their offices and externally with initiatives like using NFC technology for two-factor authentication through IBM Worklight (read more here).

But it works both ways, and IBM has a lot to gain from this venture as well. The IBM MobileFirst proposition and their SOMOCLO (Social, Mobile, Cloud) + Data positioning, have been helping the company change its reputation in the market and helping businesses go mobile and face challenges like BYOD, Security and Analytics with integrated and end-to-end software solutions.

IBM + Apple (with NFC) = Enterprise domination

Imagine the potential of adding the hardware missing from the equation, especially baring in mind the smartphone is the most powerful sensor to track and measure human activity in the physical world.

I’ve always been a huge fan of NFC, and I am hoping it finally becomes a part of IOS, making the new Apple devices with IBM software, the most potent enterprise turnkey solutions.

No smoke without fire

There are other signs of this happening like Apple introducing a new iPhone Antenna patent that Adds NFC, and signing an agreement with China UnionPay requiring NFC.

And the classical and popular rumors out in every major tech publisher like this one from VentureBeat: “New source: iPhone 6 will feature NFC, wireless charging, better 4G antenna, & a much bigger screen”.

It may have (accidentally) been a master play for Apple to allow the NFC hype to lose momentum and now become its biggest evangelist. IBM is the right partner for Apple to do so, and together they can change the enterprise and even POS technology world with an end-to-end solution (owning the chain of value), instead of doing what everyone else has been trying to – fighting for their piece of the market alone.

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