What the iPhone 5 Means for NFC and QR Codes

Recently, I spoke with John Lim, CEO of Life in Mobile, about the iPhone 5 and what the phone spells for mobile-based technologies such as NFC and QR Codes. Here are some of the highlights:

2DBS: Besides screen size, battery life, chip speed, weight, 4G LTE functionality, camera resolution, etc., what does the iPhone 5 bring or, for that matter, not bring to the table?

John: Although the iPhone 5 did not bring anything of great significance or innovation to the table with respect to new features and/or functionality, I still believe the iPhone remains the quintessential trendsetter in the smartphone industry. I would have liked to have seen the iPhone 5 come with NFC technology but, perhaps, it was not yet time. With so much else being delivered with the phone, inside and outside, maybe we see an iPhone 5S or 6 version with NFC.

Regardless of features and functionality, NFC or no NFC, the phone in and of itself helps to perpetuate and further the growth of mobile in the sense that when Apple builds consumers buy. That much I like and am excited about.

2DBS: You mention that you would have liked to have seen NFC come pre-loaded on the iPhone 5 but, since it wasn’t, what does this mean for NFC then? Does this slow the technology’s use and acceptance? What does this mean for the likes of QR Codes?  

John: By not having NFC pre-loaded into the iPhone 5, or any other phone for that matter, there is that much less of a user base to work with, so companies (e.g., brands, agencies) will be hesitant to fully embrace the technology and make use of it for marketing and/or sales purposes. So, as a net result, the technology and its use will grow, but at that much of a slower pace. It’s not until phones come pre-loaded with NFC will the technology take off from a marketer’s perspective. But, until that happens, I see QR Codes staying front and center, as a means to speed up transactions, increase the level of consumer interaction, deliver product information, etc. Although QR Codes are not always implemented correctly, the technology has been proven to work and work well when the campaign is correctly designed and executed.

2DBS: With respect to Apple Passbook, do you believe this will help consumers move closer to accepting and making use of the mobile wallet? And, here too, what does this spell for QR Codes knowing that codes will play an integral part of Passbook?

John: Because I am still waiting to receive my iPhone 5, I haven’t played with Passbook yet. But, to answer the question in broad terms, I believe Passbook will help move consumers closer to the mobile wallet, because anything that helps consumers make their life easier, better, faster, simpler, etc., will always gain traction. Sure it will take time for consumers to get use to the mobile wallet but, once they do, and it works for them, watch out. With respect to QR Codes, yes, Passbook will help many more people get used to seeing them and using them. Does this mean QR Codes become the end all and be all? No, not really, but for now the purpose they serve is clear.

2DBS: From your perspective, as a mobile expert, what’s the next ground-breaking feature to be found on a smartphone, iPhone or any other?

John: As I see it, the smartphone will become an important piece in helping consumers with their day-to-day tasks, making the mobile phone that much more indispensable and integral to have and to live with. Imagine being able to turn on your car, switch on a light or open your front door, all with your mobile device. So, to answer the question, I don’t envision any one particular ground-breaking feature, as much as I do a whole new generation of smartphones which enable users to interact with the real world in an easier and more efficient way.

Thank you John.


One thought on “What the iPhone 5 Means for NFC and QR Codes

  1. The iOS mobile market is about 30%-35% of the smartphone market in the U.S. Much less elsewhere.The smartphone market is stalling out around 50% of the Gross Total Mobile Market in the U.S. Or, slowing.Therefore iPhones represent apx. 15% of the total mobile market.They are a niche device for conspicuous consumers who love shiny toys and planned obsolescence. It is a cool device. It's just not as big as it's often portrayed.That said, the iPhone is the gear-du-jour for advertising and marketing folks. Myopic creatures, they believe everyone has an iPhone. So if an iPhone does not have NFC, then no one has NFC. Except, look at every single mid-high end Android, RIM and Windows phone released in the past 3 months. All have NFC. ISIS, Mastercard and every European and major Asian mobile infrastructure support NFC. 85% of POS terminals will support NFC by 2016. But, because Apple said "no," it's No. For some.Apple's DNA only knows how to work within an Apple silo, where Apple controls everything and pockets all the cash. That is the only reason Apple are seeking mobile payment solutions that are proprietary, just like their cables. It's probable that Apple will never implement NFC but will opt for a proprietary contactless technology.Apple make great product. But they are slipping. Dropping Google Maps shows how their corporate feelings have usurped their focus on consumers. Depriving Apple users of NFC is likewise entirely selfish. There's no other excuse.Passbook is a glorified (very pretty) document "folder." Not much more.Apple are only concerned with "enabling users to interact with the real world in an easier and more efficient way" when Apple reap the financial benefits. There is nothing magnanimous going on. It's a mistake to attribute Apple with qualities it no longer possesses.While it may seem bizarre, I'd say Windows phones may wind up having the mass appeal for mobile that alludes Apple. Time will tell.

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