NXP is enjoying great success getting its NFC chips designed into smartphones. But what are those NFC chips being used for?
LONDON -- NXP Semiconductors is on a run rate to record nearly $1 billion of annual sales revenue in identification chips. I did a double take when I saw that forecast.
In the second quarter of 2012, NXP's ID chip business unit wracked up $234 million in sales. That's 21.4 percent of NXP's total for the quarter, up 20.6 percent on the same quarter a year before. A significant part of the identification market is based on near-field communications (NFC) technology which builds on RFID technology.
The two technologies between them cover such applications as electronic passports, contactless bank cards, transportation ticketing cards, ID tags for retail, commercial and industrial applications along with associated readers and mobile applications. NXP claims it leads each of these markets.
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NXP (Eindhoven, Netherlands) reckons about 100 million cell phones will ship with NFC in 2012, according to Alexander Rensink, director of strategic marketing for NXP's identification business unit. Put another way, nine out of the top ten smartphone vendors are shipping NFC-enabled devices and NXP supplies eight out of the nine. The result is 90 percent penetration for NXP in NFC-enabled mobile handsets.
Rensink describes the market this way: Between 2011 and 2016, 2.2 billion NFC-enabled devices will be shipped and the largest sector by far will be handsets. NXP already has NFC chips designed into 200 smartphone models and tablet computers and only about 80 (40 percent) of them are in volume production, Rensink said.
Nice work if you can get it.
The big driver for NFC-enabled mobile phones is the prospect of using the cell phone for transactions; an application that so far has yet to pan out.
Rensink is adamant there is a lot more to NFC than just providing a means for transferring funds. "NFC can be used in coupling the physical world to the virtual," he said. Other applications include possibilities: stickers on posters and magazine ads that provide additional information and URLs when users scan codes with their phones; stickers on toys and action figures that can enable an online experience based on the physical toy; and NFC in white goods and smart clothing.
It feels like the industry has been harping on about NFC for years and years, and yet.... where are all those swarms of people using it? Nowhere.
NFC holds much promise but has so far delivered very little.
Well, when Isis comes out (launch date, Oct 22, today!), then there will be a payment system supported by all the major US credit cards and telcos, along with standard NFC payment equipment for stores.
When stores start installing NFC payment systems, and customers see how quickly and easily other customers can make payments using NFC, I think you'll see its use spreading pretty quickly.
Just checked: my mistake--Sprint went with Google Wallet instead of Isis. I wonder if this will be like their WiMax vs LTE mistake of being first with the technology, but ending up with an orphan system.
I would think that the comparison SHOULD be between NFC and optical bar codes, not Bluetooth. Bluetooth is more of a "personal area network," and it works wonders, for example, to connect your cell phone to your car's hands-free cell phone system.
Sylvie, I use NFC daily, to get in and out of the Wash DC metro system and metro parking, and also to get in and out of my office (electronic gates and doors). Imagine how neat it would be if I could use the same card I use to get into the Metro system also for, say, food shopping.
NFC is faster than Bluetooh hence suitable for transfering large data in lesser time.
However bluetooth's RF cloud is relatively large hence convinient.
I am curious if someone can compare NFC with traditional IR port interms of speed and power consumption.