Shipments of NFC-enabled handsets grew 300% last year
Global sales of handsets featuring near field communication (NFC) technology grew by a massive amount in 2012, reaching 140 million units shipped.
Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48.2%, a new study from Berg Insight shows NFC mobile phones grew by a hefty 300% last year. Annual shipments are forecasted to reach one billion units by 2017.
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, noted Berg.
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. However, André Malm, senior analyst at Berg, anticipated 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,' Malm commented.
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. 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 that were initially sceptical about WLAN are now adopting a range of strategies for using WLAN as a cost-effective data offloading solution to handle the rise in data traffic from smartphones,' said Malm.
He added that WLAN is also a central component in hybrid location solutions that can enable reliable indoor navigation services. Hybrid location solutions fuse signal measurements from global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), cellular and WLAN network signals, together with data from sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses and altimeters.