updated 11:30 am EDT, Mon May 16, 2011
Device looking increasingly like minor upgrade
The next-generation iPhone will forego NFC (near-field communications) technology, claims Bernstein Research. Already common to an extent in Japan, NFC is currently seen as one of the next major trends in Western smartphones. Apple was initially expected to lead in popularizing NFC, but reports have increasingly suggested that iPhone support will have to wait.
The most common application of NFC is mobile purchases, allowing a person to pay for goods by swiping a phone in front of a reader. It can also conceivably be used for more subtle concepts however, such as triggering automatic downloads or syncing settings between Macs. The work needed for such technology might be one reason Apple would delay NFC until 2012.
Regularly nicknamed the "iPhone 4S," the next iPhone is currently expected to be a minor evolution when compared with the iPhone 4. Beyond an A5 processor and better cameras, technological improvements may be limited to things like support for HSPA+ and more networks such as Sprint, T-Mobile USA and China Mobile. Some rumored changes, though, include an edge-to-edge display and relocated camera flash.
Bernstein argues that NFC has the potential to add $15 to $30 billion in incremental revenue for higher-end mobile firms. As Apple has holds about 20 percent of the high-end cellphone market, it could therefore stand to gain about $4 to $9 billion. The basis of these estimates isn't explained.