Feeds

Who needs a million NFC tags?

Someone has bought them, but what for?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Someone is planning a big slash into the Near Field market, bundling more than a million NFC tags with handsets over the next six months, according to tag supplier Identive.

The company has announced the order, placed by a "leading mobile handset manufacturer" which will put them into phone boxes to "enhance consumers' day-to-day mobile experience". Beyond that, Identive is only saying that the order will take six months to complete, and will be provisioned through the company's Smartag subsidiary, though the last detail is important, as Smartag already counts Google as a customer.

It's easy to imagine tags being dropped into boxes with an NFC handset, in the hope that end users will develop a practical application or two for the technology while the manufacturers still struggle to see what NFC is for.

Tags can be read, or (optionally) written to, by waving a handset nearby. Once read, the tag can launch an app on the phone, or visit a specific URL, and it's possible that the unnamed manufacturer intends to pre-program the bundled tags with links to its own services – but that would be technology just for the sake of it. More likely the tags will be write enabled and come with suggested uses and the hope that users will create their own.

It's not the first time this has been tried: Violet's Mir:ror did much the same thing for a PC, and is no longer with us. Thanks to the backing of Alcatel-Lucent Touchatag lingers on, but despite years of playing and €5,000 in prizes a month, it has not created a killer application.

Nokia has shown how NFC can be used to reroute a music stream by tapping a handset against a speaker, and one imagines that video will soon follow, but it's really hard to think of a good reason why one would want to program one's own tags.

Nokia's interest in NFC, and lack of obvious progress in proximity payments, would seem to make them the perfect customer for bundling NFC tags with handsets to see what customers do with them.

Smartag has, on the other hand, already supplied tags to Google, for Google Places, so there's already a business relationship there.

Apple is a nice thought, but giving technology to users to see what happens isn't the Apple way, and a million tags would seem insufficient for any iPhone 5 launch.

But whoever placed the order, it is obvious there will be a lot more NFC tags around over the next 12 months. Now we just have to think of something worth doing with them... ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.