NFC in a fifth of handsets by 2012

In its latest analysis of the market for Near Field Communication, ABI Research forecasts that by 2012 some 292m handsets – just over 20% of the global mobile handset market – will ship with built-in NFC capabilities.

ABI thinks 2007 will be “critical” for NFC technology as key standards and operator trials complete the foundations for the first real deployments. “NFC in mobile phones promises a quicker and easier way to execute a host of key tasks by just waving the phone,” says senior analyst Jonathan Collins. “Making payments, unlocking doors, downloading content, even setting up wireless networks and many other applications, can all be enabled from an NFC handset.”

Early enthusiasm for NFC has been tempered by the complexity of the ecosystem required to support multiple, revenue-generating applications. ”Mobile operators stand as the gatekeepers of NFC’s entry into new handsets,” notes Collins. “Until they are comfortable with getting a return on the investment in those handsets, NFC will not reach a mass market.”
Success in developing NFC relationships, primarily between card issuers, contactless transportation ticketing providers and mobile operators, will determine the speed and shape of deployment and consumer availability of NFC in handsets.