3 Reasons why Apple hasn’t adopted NFC yet

For an innovative company like Apple, they often perplex customers and analysts with their feature design choices. Especially in the iPhone. I remember well denigrating the original iPhone, on my blog, and publicly in conferences. It didn’t have a replaceable battery, a decent camera, camera flash, or a physical keyboard, and it only sported 2G connectivity.

Of course history proved me wrong. Not only did the iPhone absolutely dominate the smartphone market, but they fundamentally changed smartphone design. Despite a decade of the Palm, Windows CE, and Blackberry devices, 2007 marked the shift to all premium smartphones sporting capacitive touch screens as their primary IO interface. Over the following years all competitors scrambled to create an app store on the phone, making it easy for customers to buy applications. But none have toppled the dominance of the App Store.

Even so, it remains that iPhone’s, and Apple products in general, often don’t lead with emerging technologies. They weren’t the first with 3G, 4G, and now with NFC. Why is that?

1. Customer experience is king

There is a reason that Apple has fans, from the rabid “campers in the launch queue” to the busy “it just works” executive. A great experience that doesn’t depend on technical knowledge.

Putting a connectivity technology into a phone before widespread adoption would cause a frustration and annoyance that is the antithesis of the Apple experience.

2. Don’t follow the crowd

As mentioned above, the original & current iPhones don’t sport features found on many other phones. Even today, you can’t replace the battery on the phone. This is one thing that sets the company apart. Whatever you say about Apple, you can’t say they’re a “me too” company. Even when they do choose to make something others have made; and let’s face it they weren’t the first company to make desktops, laptops, MP3 players, smartphones, or slates; they revolutionise the design.

3. Invest in technologies that will become standard

There are too many emerging technologies and competing standards for Apple to make a long term bet too early in the design phase. How much did it cost Microsoft to adopt HD-DVD on the Xbox 360 instead of Blue Ray? Even Blue Ray hasn’t taken off like DVD did. Apple has simply ignored both of these formats betting on the longer term future of downloads.

Because of the first, two principles, Apple considers emerging technologies carefully, waits for the adoption of a dominant standard, then revolutionises the design.

Near Field Communication – Close, but no cigar

Let’s face it NFC is still not that widespread. Even where it is in shops, adoption is really limited. And there are hardly any consumer electronics devices actually in the market, let alone peoples’ homes, that have a significant benefit with NFC.

My technology friends would disagree with me of course. And the geek in me agrees with them. NFC is really cool technology, and it would be wonderful not to have to carry a wallet with bank cards, or even a house key.

I could rig that up at home, which puts me as 1 of less than 100k people in Australia that could.

But there are 23m people in Australia, and these are the Apple market.

Watch this space

I have no doubt that NFC will find widespread adoption. It’s based on RFID, which is used in a number of industries from manufacturing & logistics, to toll roads. The one emergent consumer adoption of the technology is in the automotive industry. Already my bike has keyless ignition, and the technology is growing beyond just the premium market.

Like all new technologies though, there’ll be teething problems. Already you can get cases in Asia for Android phones that stop people stealing from the bank cards on your phone. And what happens when your phone battery goes flat when you need to pay for fuel, or unlock your house?

But like pairing on Bluetooth, security on WiFi, and privacy on Facebook, I’m confident we’ll overcome these.

What about the next iPhone?

I reckon it’s still only about 50% odds that the next iPhone will sport NFC. Not only do we need to see more widespread adoption of NFC, we need to see this in the USA. Whether we like it or not, this is still Apple’s primary market. Those of us in the Antipodes will probably gnash our teeth in frustration.

But then we have about 6-9 months until the release of the next model, and in tech, that’s an age.

I am interested to hear from those with Android and other phones that do have NFC though. Do you use it a lot? If so, what for?

The Top 21 iPhone Apps for Motorbikers

Project 2012: Day 353

IMG_93761. Glympse

This app allows you to let specific people know, via SMS or email, your real-time location for a specified time. Unlike Google’s Latitude, which once people have access to they can see wherever you are at any time, this allows you to choose different people for different trips, and expire their access.

Brilliant for: Giving your spouse peace of mind.

2. MotionX GPS

This is a great app for a whole host of uses, like navigating to a specific point on the planet by lat/long. You can also publish this to email, sms, and social media addresses at regular intervals. You can pre-download maps when you’ve no cellular signal, and record your ride.

Brilliant for: Navigation, cellular signal or no

3. Parking by MC Network

Shows all of the free, paid, official and unofficial motorbike parking spots in Australia based on your location.

Brilliant for: Finding a free parking spot close to your next meeting, even in obscure places

4. Dealers by MC Network

Shows all of the dealers, mechanics, tyre & fitment, & motorcycle accessory shops in Australia based on your GPS location

Brilliant for: Getting that tin of chain lube, or replacing those tyres when you need to in a hurry.

5. Motorcycle Rides & RideMate

These apps are an attempt to crowd source and distribute great rides near your locality. Australian for now (mostly East Coast). Works off of your GPS. It also shares videos of many of the rides, that allows you to virtually experience the ride before actually riding it. Good for navigation, and seeing whether you want to head out.

Brilliant for: Recording the GPS track of a ride and sharing this with other riders

6. Instagram, Storygram, and Instacanvas

Let’s face it, one of the joys of riding is getting to places you haven’t been to, and seeing bikes of varying sex appeal. Instagram allows you to document your stops with a photo, and publish to all of your social media sites. Storygram allows you to create a story from Instagram photos, and Instacanvas allows you to create physical objects (mugs, canvases, and prints) from your photos.

Brilliant for: Allowing friends and family to live vicariously through your rides

7. Text2Group

Who wants to ride alone? Not me. Text2Group allows you to create (a) group(s) of your friends and send a message to them all.

Brilliant for: Co-ordinating rides

8. Facebook

In the same vein as Text2Group, if your friends are on Facebook, you can create events for the rides, share comments and photos. All from your phone whilst on the road.

Brilliant for: Building and updating your community on the road

9. AirBnB, Stayz, & Couchsurfing

If you’re heading for one or more nights, you’re going to need accommodation. AirBnB & Stayz allows you to find people renting out their couch, room, or entire house for really reasonable rates. An added advantage is meeting with a local as well.

Couchsurfing allows you to do that for free.

Brilliant for: Cheap or free accommodation anywhere in the world, meeting interesting people and learning about local culture

10. Apple Maps

Whilst not quite at the level (yet) of Google or Nokia Maps, you’re going to need local maps. Generally when you’re in the middle of nowhere at a T-junction. Apple maps gives great turn by turn directions, which is a boon with Bluetooth or wired headset. I’ve used this personally down the West Coast of America, in NYC, Vancouver in Canada, Singapore, around Sydney & Melbourne in Australia without fault.

Brilliant for: Keeping your eyes on the road as you navigate to your next beer

11. Postcards by Australia Post

Creates a real postcard from your iPhone photos, allows you to type a message, and sends it to people anywhere in the world.

Brilliant for: Making your friends at home jealous

12. Contour

Allows you to use your iPhone as a viewfinder for ContourGPS and Contour+ cameras. Which when they’re stuck on your helmet is a good thing.

Brilliant for: Ensuring your awesome ride videos are.

13. WheresMyCar & IParkedHere

Parking your bike in a foreign place & heading into the markets? This app will mark where you parked, allow you to record with a photo or a note (so you remember the level and colour or the multi-story car park) and even warn you if a meter is running low.

Brilliant for: Peace of mind in a new city.

14. WordPress and Posterous

You may want to blog your ride. Whilst this is easier from a larger device, like an iPad with a keyboard, the phone is great for real time updates.

Brilliant for: Maximising your ride report, minimising your blogging burden

15. TripIt

This app allows you to record all of your travel plans, flights, lodging, rentals, ferries, trains etc. If you’re on an extended trip and want a single place to store confirmation codes, phone numbers, addresses and activities, this is the app for you.

Brilliant for: Long trips with multiple activities, locations, and paid services

16. Shared photostream

Create a shared photostream with other riders and upload the photos from your ride. If you have an AppleTV you could set the screen saver to use this photostream for the folk at home to enjoy.

Brilliant for: Not having to take every photo of the trip.

17. iTunes (& Podcasts)

It gets pretty lonely inside your helmet on a long trip. Wile away the hours with some toons. If commuting, podcasts allow you to keep up with the world.

Brilliant for: Sanity

18. Kindle, iBooks, Newstand, Zinio

There’s not a whole lot of space on a motorbike for all your favourite reading material when on the road. With these apps you’ll never be at a loss for reading material, nor need a bedside lamp when you’re on a couch or in a tent somewhere off the beaten track

Brilliant for: Lightening your load, brightening your mind.

19. OzWeather & OzRadar

You’re out in the open, and the weather affects you every minute of your ride. Whether commuting or road tripping, OzWeather will give you an accurate forecast to plan your trip. The radar in OzWeather, or just OzRadar allows you to time your ride to avoid that wall of water.

Brilliant for: Knowing when you’re going to be drenched.

20. Tapatalk

If, like me, you’re a member of the ADVRider.com or netrider.com online forums, Tapatalk allows you to keep up to date on the forum.

Brilliant for: Having the wealth of biker knowledge to hand

21. Evernote

I’ve left this one for last, but I love Evernote. As it sounds, it’s a note taking application. You can clip from the web, take photos, audio, or text notes. You can share these across (all) devices, and with friends, search on them by text, tag, or even location.

Brilliant for: Collaborative planning, and remembering everything.

Which ones have I missed?

Do You Need a Camcorder Anymore?

Project 2012: Day 325

Back in 2000, a year after moving to Australia, I bought my first digital camcorder. It was (is) a Panasonic device that records to Mini-DV tape. I needed to hack the camcorder to record my edited video back onto the device. Then there was the investment in a Canopus Real-Time editing card (about $5000), not to mention the NLE software, and thousands of hours learning the craft to make somewhat better than “home” movies. Most of my distribution was to VHS tape, as most of my audience (family and church) didn’t over a DVD player back then.

Over the years I upgraded both camera, and editing machine, up to a Canon HF-100 HD Camcorder that records to SDHC card.

But I can’t remember the last time I used it. Definitely over a year ago.

And I’m shooting (way) more video.

At the end of the day, my iPhone shoots 1080p High-Def video, that I can edit well enough for my purposes on my iPad. I always have my phone with me. I distribute direct to YouTube & Vimeo. So here’s my question:

Do You Need a Camcorder Anymore?