Many experts have pointed out that the use of near-field communications technology to make credit card purchases using smartphones will likely only become more ubiquitous when companies develop phones capable of this type of transaction, but one major tech company won’t do so yet.
Unlike major competitors such as Google and Microsoft, it seems as though the latest smartphone offering from Apple — its iPhone 5, expected later this year — will not make use of NFC technology to make the handset into a mobile wallet, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. This comes despite a new app known as Passbook that Apple will release this fall, which allows users to keep all their store loyalty cards, coupons and even event tickets stored on their phone.
Apple believes it does not need to engage in a large-scale battle with its competitors over the NFC mobile wallet market, and will instead wait to see what trends develop in the industry before making a decision, the report said. This strategy has worked in the past, as the company held off on releasing its iPod, iPhone, and iPad until other, similar devices were on the market. Now, all are the among most popular devices in their category.
“Apple is always a comfortable number two,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told the newspaper. “They let their competitors do their market research for them.”
Currently, the company has sold more than 200 million iPhones, and has roughly 400 million credit card account details registered through iTunes, meaning that, when the company launches its mobile wallet platform, it will have a sizable customer base already in place, the report said. That means it won’t have to fight with other companies to gain a foothold in the marketplace for this type of purchasing.
For its part, though, Apple has begun to kick around some ideas for how its mobile wallet platform might work, the report said. Ideas for whether the devices would rely on NFC, or Bluetooth connections that use less power, are among the issues that have been discussed.
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Mobile wallet technology is expected to be worth a considerable amount to participating companies within the next few years. Some estimates show it could generate as much as tens of billions annually by 2015 alone.
Image: yuichirock, via Flickr