Well, many people who've been around the mobile industry for a while would probably say "About time too"!! But seriously yes it's been a long time coming but NFC has picked up a seemingly unstoppable momentum over the last few months driven by numerous announcements. Mobile commerce is taking a step or maybe a leap forward. This month's Barcelona event only served to reinforce the progress.
So what's different in 2011 or is this another false NFC dawn?
First though, I couldn't but agree with my colleague Windsor's comments in his blogpost on Friday. Optimism is returning. The attendance suggests this too as I believe it was higher this year. For all the reasons that Windsor gives, the potential for applying mobile solutions across a range of everyday functions and activities is exciting the industry and increasingly the users.
For NFC I guess Eric Schmidt of Google in his keynote on the Tuesday evening captured it in a nutshell. It's a "mega scale opportunity" were his words. Devices such as Samsung's Wave 578 and the new Galaxy S2 which include NFC were on display but further vendors also see 2011 as the year when they will integrate NFC. RIM is one such example.
All told I spoke to at least 20 exhibitors at some length on the prospects for NFC. These included mobile operators, POS vendors, device, payments, chipset & SIM vendors along with a number of players offering interim NFC solutions.
Regular readers of Juniper's blog won't be surprised if I conclude that NFC's prospects look very postive on the basis of technology in evidence at Mobile World Congress.
But for me what was different this time around? Well, it was that we've also seen a number of mobile operator announcements of real service rollouts with some even giving forecasts of the number of users they expect to see in 2011. Equally, another limiting factor for the technology that I've mentioned on a number of occasions is the integration of NFC into POS readers. Again good news on this front was evident with Verifone telling me that all its new POS devices will have NFC integrated - so in other words - merchants who replace their POS readers will get NFC whether they know and want it or not. Along with devices finally appearing, I can hear the sound of market barriers crashing to the ground.
My video report from Mobile World Congress is here