A year ago, I wrote a post basically predicting the demise of NFC (Near Field Communication) because there was no support for it on the iPhone 5s/5c . My contention is that if you had to choose a short range mobile protocol, you need to pick one that has the broadest support.
Well, to my surprise, with the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, Apple now supports NFC, so I pretty much have to eat my words. However, there’s a twist. The Cult of Mac has confirmed from Apple that NFC functionality is locked out to developers and is to only be used for their new Apple Pay mobile payment system. So, those mobile payment systems, eager to leverage the iPhone 6/6 plus’ NFC capability, are left out in the cold.
I don’t foresee Apple opening NFC’s capability anytime soon. For Apple Pay’s plan of world domination, they do not want the iPhone to work with other NFC enabled payment systems. It’s Apple flexing their monopolistic power of their platform. I do, however, predict lawsuits from other mobile payment systems to try to force Apple to provide access to the NFC functionality.
Ironically, for Apple Pay to be successful, it will have to support the Android platform. If you are a retailer, you’re going to choose a payment solution that works for all (or most) platforms (iPhones only made up 11.7% of the smartphones shipped in Q2 2014). Fortunately, for Apple, many of the Android devices out there support NFC. Although I find it hard to fathom, to make Apple Pay ubiquitous, Apple may have to swallow their pride and develop their first Android app. To their credit, they’ve had to make similar decisions in the past when they developed iTunes support for Windows (Steve Jobs was actually opposed to this). It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.