With all of the rumors swirling around the potential for NFC functionality on the next iPhone, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there’s already a popular smartphone out on the market with that very feature. We’re talking, of course, about the Nexus S – Google’s flagship smartphone manufactured by Samsung. It’s most recent incarnation is the Nexus S 4G.
But NFC, naturally, is a lot like the telephone. It’s only useful if someone else can play along with you. To that end, reports are coming in that Google is planning a media event this Thursday where the company will announce a new NFC initiative whereby Nexus S users will be able to use their device as a payment pad at stores like American Eagle Outfitters, Macy’s, and Subway.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, “retailers that participate in the program will have upgraded terminals at the point of sale that can read the mobile devices and provide special offers.”
And as with any initiative involving Google, advertising is the core motivation.
For Google, the system could help boost its digital advertising business. The planned payment system would allow Google to offer retailers more data about their customers and help the retailers target ads and discount offers to mobile-device users near their stores, these people said. Google, which hopes to sell ads and discount offers to the local merchants, isn’t expected to get a cut of the transaction fees.
As for Apple’s interest in NFC, they have a lot of patents in the area and have made a few NFC related hires over the past 18 months. Still, the latest noise suggests that while NFC functionality is coming to the iPhone, we won’t see it until the iPhone 6 comes out, presumably in mid-late 2012.