NXP CEO Casts More Doubt on Prospects for NFC IPhone in 2011

NXP Semiconductors CEO Richard Clemmer said he would be “surprised” if the next iPhone supports Near Field Communication–the most important source yet to express doubts that Apple will adopt NFC this year.

An NXP spokesman today confirmed to NFC Times that Clemmer made the statement at the Reuters Global Technology Summit held late last week. A little-noticed comment was buried in a story by Reuters.

Most people in the industry agree that Netherlands-based NXP is currently the largest supplier of NFC chips to the market and would be the likely supplier of chips to Apple if it chose to adopt NFC.

“I’d be surprised if Apple's iPhone 5 has NFC,” Clemmer said, according to the NXP spokesman. The NXP chief executive added in response to a question that he believes the iPhone 6, or whatever nomenclature Apple chooses for its next iPhone versions, will come out next spring.

He did not say whether he thought next year’s iPhone would support NFC, but many in the industry believe that if Apple does not adopt NFC for its 2011 iPhone, expected to be released this summer or fall, that it would incorporate the technology in the following version. Apple will probably make its NFC intentions known for this year at its Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled for next month.

The only other chip supplier that is shipping NFC chips in volume, France-based Inside Secure, is unlikely to be supplying Apple, said sources.

Doubts have been growing that Apple is ready to incorporate NFC in its devices. As NFC Times reported earlier, some analysts, after talking to industry suppliers and other industry sources, did not include an NFC-enabled iPhone in their projections of NFC phone shipments for 2011.

While Apple has applied for a number of patents featuring NFC, the company may not believe the technology is mature enough or that there is a sufficient infrastructure of readers and tags to create a compelling user experience, said observers.

That is despite that fact that Apple’s main rivals in the smartphone market, Google, Nokia and Research in Motion, all have embraced NFC. But they are just starting to introduce phones.

A key theme running through Apple’s NFC patents is use of the technology to pair Apple devices and enable users to share content and settings among the devices.

For that, it wouldn’t need an NFC chip that supports payment or other applications using card-emulation mode or a chip that comes with an embedded secure element. Other NFC chip suppliers besides NXP and Inside might be ready to supply this, though these chip suppliers are still believed to be gearing up for the market.

In any case, Clemmer would have no reason to pour cold water on the stubbornly persistent rumors that Apple will embrace NFC for this year’s iPhone–even if NXP were not the supplier. NXP’s share price has more than doubled since December, fueled by the buzz around NFC and especially the chip maker’s partnership with Google to incorporate NFC in Google’s Nexus S phone and its Android smartphone operating system. 

Clemmer, at the Reuters event, also noted that the company is working with all major handset makers and mobile operating system suppliers, which would include Microsoft and its Windows Phone operating system that has been adopted by Nokia.

He claimed that NXP holds a 70% share of the NFC chip market this year, and kept to his projection that there would be about 70 million NFC chips shipped in 2011 and about double that next year from all suppliers, the NXP spokesman confirmed. The Reuters story inaccurately stated that Clemmer had projected NXP itself would ship 70 million chips this year and double that or more in 2012. Inside Secure’s CEO Rémy de Tonnac disputes the NXP estimate on market share, telling NFC Times last week, “Let’s count the chips at the end of the year.”

Clemmer also predicted that in five years, two-thirds to three-quarters of all smartphones would pack NFC.

Within a few years, much of this NFC technology in smartphones is expected to be incorporated in combination wireless chips that also support such technologies as Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS.

NXP does not produce these types of chips, which are instead made by such companies as Broadcom. It would then focus fully on secure elements to support NFC applications in the phones, Clemmer said.

HEADLINE NEWS

HCE Mobile Wallet is a Must-Have, Says Polish Bank, But Usage Still Low

NFC Times Exclusive – The high penetration of contactless point-of-sale terminals and high use of contactless bank cards in Poland has spurred the launch of HCE mobile wallets by some Polish banks, but use does not appear to be taking off yet–at least if one bank’s project is any guide.

Apple Pay Launches In Hong Kong, Where Other NFC Services Have Failed to Take Off

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Apple followed its launch of Apple Pay in France Tuesday with a launch in Hong Kong today, its ninth market globally and fourth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Apple Pay Launches in France with Few Issuers and Tokenization from Visa and Mastercard

Jul 20 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Apple Pay, as expected, has launched in France, its eighth market globally and third in Europe after the UK and Switzerland; but it launches with only one major bank in France, Groupe BPCE.

Analysis: Two NFC Wallets from Telco Joint Ventures to Close as SIM-Based NFC Takes Another Big Hit

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Telco joint ventures on opposite sides of the globe announced within hours of each other plans to pull the plug on their respective NFC wallets, marking another big hit for the future of SIM-based NFC.

Android Pay Launches in Australia with ANZ but Not Yet with Westpac or Other Big Four Banks

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Google has launched Android Pay in its fourth country, Australia, with one of the country’s big four banks, ANZ, but the launch was beset by delays that have kept another of the big four, Westpac, on the sidelines for now.

Analysis: Apple Sees Familiar Pattern with Apple Pay Launch in Switzerland

NFC Times Exclusive – Apple’s expansion into Switzerland late last week with its Apple Pay service followed a familiar pattern, as in many of the other new markets the tech giant has expanded its payments service in: support first comes from relatively small issuers while major banks hold out.

As Apple Pay Launch Looms, French Telcos Continue to Push SIM-Based NFC with TSM Hub

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – With the launch of Apple Pay imminent in France, telcos there are continuing to push SIM-based NFC technology, hiring a trusted service manager for their new NFC SIM “hub”–although No. 1 telco Orange will also support Apple Pay.

Taiwanese Telco Joint Venture Steers Course Away from TSM; JV President Blames Vendor Safran

Jul 11 2016

NFC Times Exclusive – Alliance Digital Technology Co., the joint venture of five Taiwanese mobile operators and transit fare-collection operator EasyCard Corp., is steering away from the TSM business, which was the reason it formed three years ago, NFC Times has learned. It will add a focus on providing mobile ID and authentication, the JV told NFC Times.

French Domestic Network to Provide Tokenization for ‘Pays’ Service; Seeks to Take on Visa and MasterCard

Jul 19 2016

NFC Times Exclusive – French banks and their bank-owned domestic payments network STET plan to launch mobile payments in the first quarter of next year with a “large smartphone vendor” using the domestic payment network’s own token service provider, STET told NFC Times.

Samsung Deal with Alipay in China Angered UnionPay; Device Maker Gears Up to Enable Transit Ticketing

NFC Times Exclusive – SHANGHAI, China: While Apple has signed up more banks and is believed to have more cards registered in China for its Apple Pay service–around 10 million, according to a source–Samsung is seeking to outflank its rival with more acceptance points and more applications for Samsung Pay, NFC Times has learned.

Analysis: Microsoft Considers NFC Wallet App a Must-Have for Flagging Smartphone Business

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Microsoft, which has written off more than $8 billion from its failed Nokia acquisition and which is expected to fully pull the plug on its consumer smartphone hardware business, nonetheless believes a viable wallet app is a must-have to keep its Windows 10 operating system for phones viable–although its announcement this week of Microsoft Wallet is surrounded by unknowns, including exactly when the service will generally launch.

Reality Check: MasterCard Misses Big on Goal to Bring International NFC Acceptance to Japan

NFC Times Exclusive – Three years ago, in June of 2013, MasterCard announced it would “deploy a target” of 410,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled point-of-sale terminals, to be rolled out “throughout Japan over the next three years.”