Samsung TecTiles for Galaxy Smartphones Push NFC Market Beyond Payments

Samsung is now selling TecTiles, postage-stamp-size NFC-backed stickers that users of NFC-enabled phones—such as the Samsung Galaxy S II or S III—can program to do things like send text messages or change settings.

Samsung is looking to give the near-field communication market a much-needed boost. Its Galaxy S III smartphone will not only have the technology inside, but Samsung is now selling five-packs of what it calls TecTiles€”NFC-backed stickers the size of postage stamps that users can program, and re-program, for a variety of tasks, through a free application in the Google Play market.

An NFC-enabled smartphone user could, for example, program a sticker€”later stuck to his car€™s dashboard€”to send a text message that says, €œOn my way home.€ A store could program a sticker, that gets put on the front door or cash register, that lets customers check into Foursquare. A sticker stuck to a desk or important file could be swiped to set the user€™s phone to vibrate when she heads into a meeting€”or on second thought, reprogrammed to act as a virtual business card that business contacts can swipe with their NFC-enabled phones.

The tags can also be programmed to change a variety of settings, join WiFi networks, launch applications, place calls, open a Web page, show an address on a map, start a Google Talk conversation, update a Facebook status, post a Tweet, Connect on LinkedIn and more.

The five-packs of stickers will sell for $14.99 at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile stores. (All four carriers, along with U.S. Cellular, will sell the Galaxy S III in the coming weeks.)

€œWith millions of NFC-enabled smartphones currently in the market and the arrival of our flagship device Galaxy S III, Samsung saw an opportunity to expand the value of NFC beyond mobile payment,€ Dale Sohn, president of Samsung America, said in a June 13 statement. €œThe launch of Samsung TecTiles is another example of Samsung€™s ability to innovate new products and applications that improve the way we use our mobile devices for everyday tasks.€

Mobile payments have indeed been the primary focus of NFC-enable applications. Juniper Research expects that, in the United States and Western Europe, more than one out of four mobile phone users will use an NFC-enabled phone to make in-store purchases by 2017. Currently, less than 2 percent of phone users do so.

Worldwide, again by 2017, Juniper expects NFC-based payments to exceed $180 billion.

€œNFC retail payments are still at an early stage, but hold great promise,€ Windsor Holden, co-author of a Juniper report on the topic, said in a May 30 statement introducing the report. €œIn 2011 we saw significant strides made within the ecosystem, such as the launch of Google Wallet, the announcements of more mobile wallet consortia and the supply of an increasing number of NFC-enabled smartphone models. NFC is now impacting the public consciousness and we expect a rapid market expansion from 2012 onwards.€

NFC is currently included in several RIM BlackBerry Bold and Curve models, Google€™s Galaxy Nexus, the HTC Incredible, One X and Amaze 4G, LT€™s Optimus Elite, Optimus LTE, Optimus Vu, and Optimus Net, the Motorola Droid Razr, Nokia€™s C7 and N9, Samsung€™s Galaxy S II, S II, Blaze 4G and Note devices, among a long list of other handsets.

Apple notably left NFC out of its iPhone 4S, and whether it will include it in the iPhone 5 is still€”as with the entire device€”a matter of conjecture.

€œThere is a question about Apple [adopting NFC for the iPhone 5],€ Jean-Paul Cottet, executive vice president of group marketing and innovation at European carrier Orange said at a June 8 press conference in Paris, according to CDnet UK. From Apple€™s perspective, he said, the market is not yet mature enough.

For Nokia, he added, it€™s €œa no brainer€ and a game-changer. As for Orange, it has decided to make all of its post-paid SIM cards NFC-enabled.

€œWe are betting on the future,€ said Cottet.

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