Which NFC application will be the first to gain broad acceptance among consumers? The answer to this ongoing question is not much clearer now than it was a year ago, despite the numerous new NFC-enabled smartphones that have reached the market during the past 12 months. Many enterprises and NFC vendors are thinking ambitiously when it comes to driving consumer adoption, with use-cases like mobile payment, mobile marketing, and other relatively complex B2C applications being the cornerstones of many enterprises’ strategies. In contrast, Samsung, a leading manufacturer of NFC smartphones, is taking a more practical approach with the introduction of its TecTiles, which are essentially NFC tags with a sticker backing.
TecTiles are simple yet versatile in regards to the applications they can enable. Using any properly configured NFC smartphone, TecTiles can be programmed to automate almost any smartphone function. Are you tired of hassling with turning Bluetooth on/off when getting in and out of the car? Program a TecTile to automate that process and stick it on your vehicle’s console. Don’t want to be “that person” at work who leaves his or her cell phone ringer on to disturb everyone else in the office? Place a TecTile on your desk to silence your phone when you arrive at work. Almost any action made with (or configuration/setting made to) a smartphone can be programmed to happen automatically with a simple tap using TecTiles.
While the use-cases facilitated by TecTiles are very simple compared to more complex B2C NFC applications, with simplicity comes accessibility—anyone with an NFC enabled phone can use TecTiles and they cost just $15 for a pack of five. As the saying goes, “you have to crawl before you can walk”—we think TecTiles are a great way to get consumers using and familiar with NFC in the present, rather than waiting (or hoping) for the day when merchants and other B2C enterprises invest in contactless infrastructure and consumer-facing NFC applications.
Although Samsung seems to be targeting TecTiles largely at consumers, VDC believes enterprises present a strong market opportunity for this product and similar tag form factors as well. From an enterprise perspective, TecTiles could be leveraged to enable and enhance a diversity of powerful B2C applications, with social media, location-based “check in” and information access being among the obvious ways businesses could leverage these tags.
No matter how or where they are used, we believe TecTiles have great potential to make NFC a little more accessible for those consumers and, in some cases, enterprises that use them for home, personal and business applications.