No NFC for you, iPhone 5. Here's Apple's explanation

VP Phil Schiller says Apple's home-grown Passbook technology is good enough to satisfy customer expectations.

One iPhone 5-related product announcement not on Wednesday's agenda was any mention of near-field communication, the wireless technology which facilitates payments and short-range data transmissions.

And why not? "Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today," Apple vp Phil Schiller told AllThingsD this afternoon.

He also offered a few digs at wireless charging systems, questioning the amount of convenience they offer users.

iPhone 5
Apple
"Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated," Schiller said.

This is more than a case of "not invented here." CNET months ago chronicled the limitations of Near Field Communication, which have become a serious bottleneck, whether for infrastructure deployed in stores or compatible phones. My CNET colleague Maggie Reardon noted that although the technology has been around for a while and works fine, its use as a payment technology also requires a broad ecosystem. "But any devices need to be equipped with tiny NFC chips," she pointed out. "And terminals at the point of sale must also be equipped to read the information from the NFC chips installed in devices. The second big problem is that there are still business issues centering around who controls the customer via the NFC technology that's embedded in the device."

That also presents an opportunity for Apple to pull ahead of Google in the race to turn phones into digital wallets, one of the holy grails of the last few years. At the very least, it should make things more interesting.

About the author

Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.

 

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