NFC or Airdrop, I Don’t Care, Can We Just Pick A Standard?


I’m experiencing deja vu and it’s sort of freaking me out.

Natasha Lomas makes a good argument for why we should give Near Field Communication the ol’ Heisman. In a proclamation reminiscent of Steve Jobs refusing to allow flash to invade his mobile hardware, Apple has in so many words, eschewed any chance of NFC making its way into the next iteration of the iPhone family, instead being replaced with Airdrop.

Here’s the concern that’s brewing – and yes I’m totally self aware of my mobile pun…there is this mobile wallet utopia that has been percolating for more than a decade. That one day, we’ll leave our billfolds at home and embrace a single ubiquitous device – a device that can call friends, text acquaintances and take pictures in awkward places, all the while paying for drinks with friends during a mixtape jam session through said device!   

Look, it’s here. Well sort of. Cloud based payments have taken off. Startups like Square are being utilized everywhere. NFC is dragging its feet but still remains as a glimmer of hope in the eyes of its supporters.  Especially amongst the Europeans.

At the end of the day (and this is where my deja vu sequence comes in), we need to standardize mobile peer-to-peer, peer-to-cloud and peer-to-application gateways. I lived through the days of the text messaging’s alphabet soup of standards – GSM, TDMA, CDMA, TAP, SMPP, SMTP, XMPP, etc.

Nothing communicated and the result were phones that couldn’t text from one carrier to the other. Whether its RFID, NFC, Cloud, whatever – at some point the carriers and handset manufacturers can’t play gladiator and let the strongest standard survive, they need to stand up and throw their weight behind one, or else we all risk the chance of losing.

Now where’s my phone, I need to buy a Pepsi.


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