NXP is enjoying great success getting its NFC chips designed into smartphones. But what are those NFC chips being used for?
All this may be possible, but none of these sound like killer apps.
fact, it's reminiscent of the rise of Cambridge Silicon
Radio, now CSR, on the back of its CMOS implementation of the
Bluetooth communications standard.
The similarities are notable. Bluetooth is also a technology standard for
exchanging data over short distances. It was invented in the early 1990s
by Ericsson and quickly became essential for mobile phone and eventually computer makers.
I have never been able to get Bluetooth to work on any
of my gadgets, and I have never needed to. I suspect a lot of other users
have, like me, left their Bluetooth connections dormant. None of
this hurt CSR, which kept supplying the chips.
So is NFC the new Bluetooth? Millions of chips shipped, but rarely to be used?
Rensink replies: "Bluetooth does get used." The Google Wallet initiative, which NXP contributed in 2011, has moved forward to version 1.5. "Many other payment
initiatives are being trialed and rolled out," Rensink added. "We are still in the early
days" more applications are in the pipeline.
We are likely in the early days of a Bluetooth-style roll out for NFC. If the technology can find a niche in the Internet of Things and wireless sensor networks, it may yet prove to be useful. Either way, chip volumes look to be enormous for smartphones alone, where NXP is leading.
All good for NXP until Broadcom or Qualcomm decides the NFC radio, baseband and security should be integrated in a combo chip or application processor.
Oh, and who is the tenth smartphone company that has yet to design NFC into its smartphones? A is for...?
Related links and articles:
How Bluetooth gots its name
Intel, Inside make NFC deal
Six handset makers back Isis NFC payment