We have previously been able to pull data from PreEVT iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2 prototypes codenamed “N41AP (5,1)” and “N42AP (5,2)”, which lead us to believe that the new iPhone will have a bigger 1,136-by-640 display. We also detailed a lot of the hardware (here), but we forgot one very important bit of information. Further investigation into this hardware code dump leads us to believe that these iPhones also have Near Field Communication controllers directly connected to the Power Management Unit.

The implications are obviously monstrous. With the recently announced PassBook application (which we detailed prior to its announcement while speculating about an NFC tie-in), Apple will be set to compete with Google Wallet and Microsoft’s similar service that unveiled last week. Apple could tie in with a payment processor like Citibank’s PayPass system for credit card transactions—or it could become a payment processor of sorts with its hundreds of millions of credit cards already on file at iTunes.

NFC would also allow iPhone users a quick and easy way to share files from one iOS device to another.

Jim Peters, CTO of SITA, agrees that NFC is coming to iPhone and retailers should prepare…

“Opinion is that Apple is going to incorporate NFC into Passbook. Apple just thinks about how they can make it really easy for the user, and then they figure out how to monetise it. They don’t think about how to monetise it and then tell the user what they can have. It doesn’t work like that,” said Peters.

“There aren’t any transactions in it yet, but I think that’s how Apple is going to sneak up on the industry. They are going to get people used to using it and then all of a sudden they will allow credit cards to be used in there, on the next iPhone, which will include NFC.”

He added: “There is a lot of debate that NFC will never take off because of all the arguments. But you need to get ready, this is coming. This is going to happen. By the end of the year the majority of smartphones that you go and buy will have NFC on them. If in October the next iPhone comes out and it has NFC on it, it’s game over.”

This is not the first we heard iPhone 5 would have NFC, however.

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Besides the deluge of ideas Apple patented with NFC in March 2011, the New York Times said pre-iPhone 4S that an upcoming iPhone would have NFC.

According to two people with knowledge of the inner workings of a coming iteration of the Apple iPhone – although not necessarily the next one –a chip made by Qualcomm for the phone’s processor will also include near-field communication technology, known as N.F.C. This technology enables short-range wireless communications between the phone and an N.F.C reader, and can be used to make mobile payments. It is unclear which version of an iPhone this technology would be built into.

The iPhone 4S did not have NFC, but that makes its successor a more likely candidate. In the implementation patented above, financial settings would be managed through iTunes. However, these renderings may be outdated since Apple recently made more of these types of features available in iOS.

Ed McLaughlin, who heads emerging payments at MasterCard, had an exchange with Fast Company earlier this year that seemed to indicate Apple was entering the credit card/payments market as well:

…when asked to give an estimate for when smartphone payments would become commonplace (in other words, would 2012 be the year of NFC or contactless tech?), McLaughlin demurred–and may have dropped a hint about Apple’s future in the industry.

“The timeline is always as rapid as it makes sense for consumers,” he says. “That’s a combination of having a critical mass of the merchants, which is what you’re seeing right now, and getting devices into the hands of consumers. I don’t know of a handset manufacturer that isn’t in process of making sure their stuff is PayPass ready.”

So that would include Apple then?

“Um, there are…like I say, [I don't know of] any handset maker out there,” McLaughlin says. “Now, when we have discussions with our partners, and they ask us not to disclose them, we don’t.”

If all that were not enough, a well-connected developer told us in January that Apple was working on NFC (and some well-placed hirings).

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