Though many tech journalists have pronounced NFC a dead technology, there might still be hope for it yet. According to Dean Takahashi (writing in VentureBeat), NFC is far too young of a technology to be buried, and it's likely that it will follow a trajectory similar to GPS. He says that NFC will have to go through a period of doubt and uncertainty before it becomes a mainstream standard.
It took almost a decade after the release of the first GPS-enabled phone in 1999 for the widespread adoption of consumer mobile applications using GPS. Now we can’t live without it. Imagine applications like Google Maps, Foursquare, Waze, Weatherbug, or MapMyFitness without GPS-enabled location? Sometimes it takes a nudge like governments making it easier to access the GPS signals or handset/OS manufacturers opening up GPS location APIs to developers.
He cites the US government's requirement for more accurate location information regarding E911 services as a possible reason for manufacturers' motivation to include GPS in their handsets.
Takahashi does not see Apple's exclusion of NFC as a deal breaker. He argues that Apple's peer-to-peer WiFi or Bluetooth solutions are not the answer because they will not scale and, more importantly, they are subject to interference. NFC offers users much better control over their data transfers. It was also created as an open standard, where Apple's solutions only work if one functions within the Apple ecosystem.
The statistics certainly seem to back Takahashi's assumption. He cites an ABI report which claims 500 million NFC enabled devices will arrive next year. Despite these numbers, many technology industry experts don't see a future for the technology.
Yes, there are a number of NFC-based payment solutions on the market and, no, they have not hit critical mass of adoption yet (more due to flawed business models and lack of an integrated user experience than to issues with NFC itself). But before we bury NFC as a failed payment technology, let’s see what the innovators can do with it. Who knows … we may just discover another GPS.