Ask what the next revolutionary feature for the iPhone will be, and NFC is a common answer. NFC — or near-field communications — is an ultra low-power chip that allows two devices to communicate small strings of information within a couple feet of each other.
Why’s it so revolutionary? The most commonly cited “magic” that NFC would bring to the iPhone would be the ability to use your device to pay for goods and services, just like a credit card.
In other words, instead of pulling out your wallet to buy groceries, get onto the subway or pick up a MacBook at the local Apple Store, you’d just tap your iPhone against a point-of-sale terminal near the register instead. The NFC chips in both would communicate and you’d be on your way, no signature or PIN code required.
Pretty neat, huh? NFC would theoretically allow Apple to take a cut of real world sales made of even non-Apple products. They’d become a mobile payment company. That seems like such a no-brainer that everyone from Bloomberg to The New York Times.
The only problem? Never going to happen, because Apple has already deployed its mobile payment solution, and it’s hidden inside every iPhone 4S that has already been sold.