Google, RIM and Apple – can they jump right into the NFC value chain?

Reading all the exciting news about the roll out of NFC based services in US, I am wondering who of the big three will benefit most once we start to use our phones to pay the bills in local stores. Google, RIM and Apple are approaching the NFC roll out from a phone hardware and software angle while the network carriers have teamed up as ISIS to make sure the service is powered by a secure SIM under their leadership. Let’s have quick look at the latest status:

Just recently Bloomberg reported that Google has chosen New York and San Francisco as their test locations to bring NFC enabled POS systems to thousands of merchants, enabling a  test roll out across these cities in US. Google teamed up with VeriFone, MasterCard and Citigroup to make this happen and will most likely continue to enable cities with NFC once they see that it kicked of successfully.

Google has a strong case as they have already their first smartphones out supporting NFC, like the NEXUS S, and being fully usable through Honeycomb, their latest version of Android. Rolling out NFC will not only make their phones more attractive as payment method, but at the same time empower them to collect data about buying behaviour feeding their Ads channel. TechCrunch reported that Google now also joined the non profit NFC Forum.

At the same time RIM and Bank of America are running tests, too. RIM has activated the majority of their in use QWERTY BlackBerry models to support NFC. Loosing ground against the iPhone and Android powered smartphones, early NFC support could bring back a unique selling proposition to the BlackBerry as it formerly has been the use of E-Mail and connection to the company Exchange Services.

If RIM misses this opportunity, they will lose even more ground, as business users willing to pay by phone might move to NFC supporting smartphones powered by competitive software.

Apple is rolling back and will not support NFC within their iPhone 5, expected to be available this summer. It seems Steve Jobs is not yet in a position to benefit best from the support of NFC through his devices and takes a step back to not get lost in the value chain where Google and RIM have positioned themselves through their partnerships with the credit card companies and banks quite well already.

For Apple the question is if the NFC demand will grow so much within one year, that this might become an important criteria letting customers choose other smartphones against the iPhone 5. Looking at the iPhone users willing to move to Android powered Phones, this might be one more reason to change away from Apple.

About Alexander
Serial Entrepreneur & Founder in eCommerce - VP @NewStoreInc - Podcasting @theecomweek - Startup mentor @Venture_Villa

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