If you were hoping to start using the next iPhone as a mobile wallet, the wait might be a bit longer.
A report posted this morning by The Independent says that Apple does not plan to include a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip in the next version of the iPhone. The reasoning there, according to The Independent's sources at "several of the largest mobile operators in the UK," is that the current NFC standards landscape is fragmented, and Apple plans to introduce its own system, which could take well into next year to be readied.
NFC allows data transfer between two devices at short distances (about 4 inches). The technology has already begun to pop up in smartphones, with one of the most recent examples being the Nexus S, which runs Google's Android OS. In version 2.3 of the software, Google introduced support for NFC across the board, letting handset makers begin to include the chips in their hardware, even if payment systems are not quite up and running just yet.
Murmurs that Apple has been working to include NFC chips in its devices cropped up back in August of last year, and were strengthened by the company's hire of Benjamin Vigier from mFoundry as mobile payments product manager. Three months later, a report on the Cult of Mac claimed that Apple planned to do more with NFC than just payments, using the technology as a way to wirelessly transfer information from devices in a similar fashion to what competitor Hewlett-Packard recently unveiled with its next-generation Touchstone system in the TouchPad and WebOS handsets.
All was quiet until the end of January, when a report on Bloomberg said that NFC tech and a payment system was due in the next iPhone and iPad sometime this year. Despite that, the iPad 2 shipped without NFC.
At the iPad 2 unveiling earlier this month, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs announced that the company had amassed more than 200 million Apple ID accounts, as well as making the claim it was likely the largest number of accounts attached to credit cards on the Web. Providing an extra incentive for users to make purchases outside of digital goods (with Apple presumably getting a small fee) presents a sizable business opportunity for the company, and one that could drastically increase that 200 million account tally.