Sunday, 15 September 2013

It's STILL early days for NFC technology, but are we seeing a shift in popularity?

NFC (Near-field communication) has, for a while, been one of those pieces of technology that has promised so much, yet delivered very little. With Android flagship devices holding a greater share of the market, most will have access to NFC, but many won't realise it, or just couldn't care less. After all, what do people use it for? (This is in terms of mobile phone use of course - 'touch to pay' has begun to slowly take shape.) It's technology that has been mooted as useful in many situations, yet most either don't know what it is, or simply do not use it.

However, we might be seeing a shift. In the last 24hrs I've seen two marketing uses of NFC for public consumption, one on the train and the other on an electronic billboard. In a similar way to the deployment of QR codes, NFC technology appears to be enabled via a patch or sticker. This is true of the Metro who are encouraging passers-by to tap in via NFC to collect their online metro. It's also been seen on South West trains to provide tailored offers to travelers on a specific train line: 

Ignore the fact that this link is utterly pointless because it goes to a - as yet - undeveloped site, the technology works well, and could be used to great effect.

Obviously this is *still* early days, but with clever investment it may not be long until NFC is integrated into our everyday lives. iPhone users can not say 'why do I want NFC' any longer (and I see the latest rejection of NFC by Apple as foolish, and completely inexplicable). By 2014, many will be asking the question  'has this phone got NFC?' before deciding to purchase.

Disagree? Is it all just hype, and not leading anywhere? Feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The latest iPhone launch shows that Apple has lost its mojo

Today is the day that Apple launch two new phones, yet would you know it? In previous years, the launch of the new iPhone was a huge event, it garnered conversation for weeks. However, this time something is different. There's no public fanfare. There's no mystery. No, the once 'masters of the launch' have seemingly lost their mojo.

Why is this? Surely it can't have all been Steve Jobs? Well, his bullish attitude, and absolute refusal to accept lower than perfect certainly are being missed, but that's not necessarily what's changed.
     Before the iPhone 5 was launched, Apple still could vociferously argue that the iPhone was the best phone out there - or was at least going to be. True, it had taken a big knock from the Galaxy SIII, but the fanboys were still in good voice, and the hope of a revolutionary iPhone 5 kept this spirit alive. What happened? Well, it was a huge disappointment. Speed upgrades, and very minor cosmetic differences just didn't cut it - not for the 'innovative' Apple. Since then, we've had a year of stewing dissatisfaction with the iPhone, and Android have gripped hold of the market with flagship models like the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and the Sony XPERIA - the worst thing for Apple is that most consumers aren't looking back.

So what about now? We have the next iPhone! Wow wow wow! Not quite. Many details have been leaked, and they disappointing once again. Guess what - the 5S will be a touch quicker, ever so slightly thinner and have some colour (maybe even gold..). I know, mindblowing, right...? 

(Leaked iPhone 5S box - shows new home button)

The biggest rumoured innovation is the fingerprint scanner. (Reminder - Apple used to poke fun at Samsung for novelty extras). Lets not forget the iPhone 5C, the 'iPhone Cheap', which is simply a desperate attempt to retain market share. This will no-doubt sell well, but will it fend off the critics? Highly unlikely. Not only that, Apple's 'premium' feel, almost exclusive aura, is about to be shattered, and that's perhaps Apple's biggest USP. It's a dangerous route to take.

It's quite staggering how little they've learnt. Consumers want Apple to succeed; they like the iPhone. Apple, however, are strangling themselves. They're not allowing consumers to fall back in love with the iPhone because they're too stubborn to change, or perhaps have just run out of ideas. A radical design change (as I said this time last year) would at least show some willingness to try and fight for the fanboys, but as it stands, they're just stuck in the past thinking that the iSheep will just carry on bleating and continue buying.

Times have changed, and it appears Apple haven't.