35 million handsets in 2011 marks breakthrough year for mobile NFC

According to a new report by IMS Research, a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry the number of Near Field Communications (NFC)-enabled phones shipped in 2011 totaled 35 million globally.

IMS Research forecasts that significant market events and the enablement of other cellular handsets will drive that number to nearly 80 million by the end of 2012.

“After seven or so years of false dawns and frequent disappointment, 2011 has proved to be something of a breakthrough year,” says Don Tait, senior analyst at IMS Research. Most of the leading cellular handset manufacturers have launched NFC-enabled handsets over the last 12 months. They include Samsung, RIM, Nokia and HTC. Apple is the main player yet to release an NFC-enabled handset.”

As well as a stream of launches of NFC-enabled handsets in 2011, there have also been an increasing number of joint ventures and collaborations between different players of the NFC ecosystem. Significant examples include:

• The launch of Google Wallet in the US
• The French Government funding NFC in the following cities in France (Paris, Bordeaux, Caen, Lille, Marseille, Rennes, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Nice). Orange plans to sell 500,000 NFC-enabled cellular handsets in France by the end of 2011
• Orange UK and Barclaycard’s “Quick Tap” contactless payment solution, which was launched in May 2011 in the UK. Retailers that have signed up to this service includes McDonald’s, EAT, Pret-a-Manger and Boots.

Looking forward to 2012, the market for NFC looks even more promising. Sales of NFC-enabled cellular handsets are projected to accelerate during the next twelve months to reach 80 million handsets.

Additionally, showcase events such as the Summer Olympic Games in London will help to promote the technology and its benefits. For instance, NFC will be available at the Olympic Park, with Everything Everywhere, Telefonica UK, Visa Europe and Samsung involved in the project. The launch of the ISIS initiative in Austin Texas and Salt Lake City in Utah in the first half of 2012 will also boost the profile of NFC.

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