The number of Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled smartphone handsets in Australia is set to skyrocket this year, but brands are expected to trail behind the uptake.
In quarter one last year only 375,000 handsets featured NFC capabilities but that figure will rise 467% to 2.125 million by the end of Q1, according to Tapit forecasts.
The NFC marketing company predicts that by Q4 the number of NFC handsets in Australia will have reached 4 million, up 167% on the previous corresponding period.
According to the forecast, based on Tapit’s own research as well as Google and GFK insights, the number of NFC handsets will grow steadily throughout 2013.
However, the number of marketers using NFC in their brand’s campaign will not match the growth rate, according to Tapit’s head of operations and co-founder Andrew Davis.
Davis said marketers are more prepared for NFC than they were 12 months ago but, as is the trend with all new technologies, he estimated that brand uptake will be no higher than 20%.
“Like any new technology that has come before not everyone gets educated at the same speed and there will be brands who are way more educated than others,” Davis told B&T.
“Typically they are the ones who are always slightly more ahead of the curve.”
Davis believes the spike in NFC smartphones has been a long-time coming, with most new handsets now featuring NFC capabilities.
Apple is the notable absentee from the NFC party, with the iPhone 5 devoid of the technology.
In September after the iPhone5 launch, digital marketers blasted the smartphone as “hugely disappointing” for its lack of NFC.
Meanwhile, the company behind the Firefox web browser, Mozilla, is working on a mobile operating system.
Mozilla announced this week that it will start selling the smartphone to developers in order to drive the creation of apps.
A company called Geeksphone will build the developers phones.
Davis, who is a Firefox fan, said the open-source operating system (OS) “looks awesome” but said Mozilla will struggle to build scale and distribution agreements for the OS.
“The issue they are going to have is they are going to need to do distribution agreements with the equipment manufacturers like your Samsungs,” he said.
“And that is going to be extremely difficult because you already have a heap of agreements already in place.
“So, their biggest challenge is how you get scale with distribution agreements versus the only other angle that they rely on people themselves to upgrade to their OS organically.”
But the likelihood that consumers will upload the OS themselves is extremely low, according to Davis.
However, early adopters and tech evangelists may jump on board and, if they do, there will be an opportunity to build scale off their support.
“No doubt they will make a big push or play to develop a community,” Davis said.
“The tech evangelist guys are going to be the ones using it first so if you can get some traction and inspiration there they could build on that as well.”