updated 12:50 pm EST, Thu February 17, 2011
Would go beyond retail payments
The next-generation iPhone will indeed have NFC (near-field communications) support, but with a "twist," according to Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White. Citing sources, White claims that the phone will use a "unique" approach differentiating itself from competitors. NFC is typically associated with e-wallet payments at retail shops and vending machines, already commonplace in Japan.
Reports have hinted that Apple could be interested in using NFC to enable quick logins on Macs. Bringing an iPhone close enough to a Mac might allow it to tell the computer to load a host of personal settings, including passwords and desktop wallpaper. Apple has explored a variety of other NFC concepts in patent applications, however, such as coupons or fetching product data.
White mentions in passing that Japanese carrier Softbank is giving all 20,000 of its workers an iPhone and iPad. The company is Japan's only official wireless carrier for Apple products. The initiative is "a sign of things to come across enterprises," says White.