- Written by Nathan Drake
The beginning of the revolution is upon us! Grab your torches and pitchforks, we’re in it for the long haul! On November 16th 2011, Adweek reported that near field communication might finally be here. It seems there was something of a test run for NFC done in Manhattan in October and it created such a buzz that it was reported upon a month later. I don’t know… maybe they were waiting on the numbers or something… but really? A month?
Anyway, Google and American Eagle Outfitters got together for a little mutually beneficial promotion, with every visitor to the store on a certain day being handed 10 dollars… on a phone. The goal of the promotion was to increase awareness of Google Wallet, an app that so far is only available on the Sprint Nexus S 4G, and which allows users to pay for their purchase through their phone, eliminating the need, theoretically to carry your credit cards with you. Of course… questions of what happens if your phone breaks and the like were not answered. Who wants to damage the buzz?
Here’s the thing about this promotion… it changed nothing. Sure, people who are willing to spend 10 bucks at American Eagle (what did they buy? A single sock?) now know that there is an app for a phone out there that makes it possible to buy a product if you have that phone and the store has a reader that can interact with that phone, but as of yet the chances of those two things happening during a shopping experience is still largely hypothetical. As the article says, it’s still tough to find a company that is using NFC in very significant ways, and so I think the main issue with this promotion is that was premature. It would have been better suited for a technology expo, like the one at which I got my first underwhelming glimpse of the technology.
The thing they did get right, though, is the place at which to throw this shindig. The first people bound to see this technology when it takes off (and let me be clear, I do think it will take off… in a few years) will be the people in rich districts of cities. The technology is expensive to implement at the moment, and so the investments will be made at the places most likely to present a good ROI at the end of the quarter. Places in Manhattan, Chicago, and San Francisco are bound to see NFC before the other 99 percent of Americans, which is the way it has been and the way it always will be… no problem there. My only problem is that I have tasked myself with providing information about how NFC, with apps like Google Wallet and the like are going to affect you in the future. Google seems to want to pretend NFC will affect you tomorrow.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe tomorrow you will be checking out at the grocery store and you will presented with the option to wave your phone in front of a magic machine and you will pay that way. Maybe… but I doubt it.