Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller told All Things Digital in an interview the company decided against including a Near Field Communication chip inside the iPhone 5 because it believes the technology does solve any current problem.
“Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today.”
Passbook is designed to store closed-loop payments cards such as the Starbucks card, and items such as movie tickets, boarding passes and loyalty cards. Indeed, there are everyday use cases where something like Passbook would come in handy as Schiller suggests. Still, Apple did no favors for payments companies that were counting on the technology giant to include NFC in the most popular phone on the planet.
An article from GigaOm suggests this very thing, saying Apple could’ve been the catalyst for NFC and mobile payments had it included the technology.
Equipping the most popular phone with NFC would have a been huge education moment for consumers and a big validation for NFC. Developers could also get on board and create some really interesting apps with Apple’s encouragement.
Of course, there is more to NFC than just payments. If the iPhone 5 had included NFC, would companies have shifted away from QR codes in advertisements to using smart posters? One of NFC’s appeals is a scenario where a smartphone user scans an advertisement in a subway station and then travels across town to use the discount that was beamed to their phone. Retailers certainly would’ve done everything possible to cash in on iPhone 5 users.
But keep in mind smartphones such as the NFC-enable Galaxy S III are selling well and have reviewed well with technology buffs and the media in general. With Apple still sitting on the sidelines, Google Wallet and Isis have an opportunity to drive the conversation about NFC-enabled mobile payments.