Home Your IT Mobility Shipments of NFC handsets treble in a year
Shipments of NFC handsets treble in a year Featured

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Global sales of handsets featuring Near Field Communication (NFC) grew 300% in last year, to reach 140 million units.

NFC equipped devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48% next year, with annual shipments predicted to reach 1 billion units by 2017. The data is in a report on the subject by Swedish market analyst group Berg Insight.

Wider adoption of NFC in mobile phones began in 2011 and accelerated in 2012 when the top-ten handset vendors released nearly 100 NFC-enabled models,” says Berg’s André Malm. “NFC technology enables numerous applications such as information exchange, device pairing for establishing Bluetooth or WLAN connections, access control, electronic ticketing and secure contactless payments.”

But Malm expects that it will take some time before the stakeholders agree on business models for payment networks and access to secure elements that store the sensitive user information in NFC-enabled handsets.

“It is the sum of many possible use cases for NFC rather than one single killer application that make the technology compelling for smartphone vendors already today. Once developers gain experience with NFC and get access to a larger installed base of compatible handsets, we can also expect to see entirely new use cases not yet imagined,” he said.

“Connectivity technologies such as Bluetooth, WLAN and GPS are already standard features in most smartphones. Shipments of WLAN-enabled handsets increased to 700 million units in 2012 and the attach rate reached 44%. Several new WLAN standards and certification programmes are now being adopted to enable new use cases and improve the user experience when using WLAN in handsets.

“Wi-Fi Direct facilitates making device-to-device connections to enable content sharing and wireless connection to peripherals,” said Malm. “Wi-Fi Miracast enables peer-to-peer HD video and audio streaming without cables, for instance between a smartphone and a TV. Wi-Fi Passpoint enables mobile devices to discover and connect to WLAN networks automatically without user intervention.

“Mobile operators who were sceptical about WLAN are now adopting a range of strategies for using WLAN for cost-effective data offloading to handle the rise in data traffic from smartphones/ WLAN is also a central component in hybrid location apps that can enable reliable indoor navigation services. These apps fuse signal measurements from global navigation satellite systems, cellular and WLAN network signals, together with data from sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses and altimeters.”

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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