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Analyst: No NFC chip in next iPhone

A new report from a major research firm says Apple is not planning to bring near field communications chips to its next-generation iPhone.

iPhone 4 users.
iPhone 4 users.
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple's next iPhone will not be getting a near field communications (NFC) chip, according to a new report from analyst group Bernstein Research.

That report, picked up by Bloomberg and care of Business Insider, comes more than a year after signs surfaced that Apple was exploring the use of NFC chips in its mobile devices. Reports since then have been conflicting, with some saying the feature would arrive in the next device, and others pushing it out to the version after that.

NFC allows data transfer between two devices at short distances (about 4 inches). For phones and other mobile devices this could allow things like mobile payments, as well as transferring data between devices without the use of a cellular or nearby Wi-Fi network in a similar fashion to Bluetooth.

The payments part in particular could have a big impact on Apple as a business, not only in terms of revenue, but also in helping it to become an enabler for making purchases of non-digital goods. There are some big strings attached though, particularly in the infrastructure involved, as well as making deals behind the scenes with credit card companies who are already getting into the market with their own solutions.

Federal Reserve findings pegged electronics payments in the U.S. at topping $40 trillion during 2010. Mobile payments could push that number even higher, and give the companies enabling the transactions a chance to get a piece of the pie with fees, according to NFC experts CNET spoke with earlier this year. Bernstein's note says NFC has the potential to bring $15 billion to $30 billion in revenue to mobile companies, with Apple picking up a $4 billion to $9 billion chunk of that.

This is not the first time NFC has been called a no-go for the next iPhone. While The New York Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, and China Times have published reports at various intervals saying Apple was planning to use the technology, the Independent in March said Apple found the current NFC landscape to betoo fragmented.

Apple's next iPhone is expected to be unveiled in September, which is a few months later than previous devices have been released. More recent reports, including one from last week have pointed to Apple releasing a souped up variant of the iPhone 4 with faster internals and a better camera, akin to what it did between the iPhone 3G and 3GS.