Near Field Communication (NFC), in our opinion, will be the big story of late 2011 as it finally becomes widely adopted in the marketplace. NFC is basically a small chipset component that can store vital information e.g. credit card data, making your phone a virtual payment system for use in stores--you simply swipe your phone near the reader, enter your pin and you're good to go.
Apple's iPhone 5 is expected to adopt the tech and Android is already doing so (Sprint's recently announced Samsung Nexus S sports it)--giving the much needed push. But according to the NY Times, a Microsoft partner (Samsung?) is already exploring adopting the tech for Windows Phone 7. And not so surprisingly, Nokia is expected to push for it as well:
"A person familiar with new iterations of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform said a partner handset manufacturer is also exploring adding this technology to the next version of a Microsoft mobile phone. This person also said the new partnership with Nokia and Microsoft could catapult this technology into the mainstream as Nokia has said in the past that it plans to add N.F.C. technology to all its new phones in 2011."
NFC is certainly the future of smartphones. WiFi, GPS, augmented reality, and 4G are all on their way, if not already, to being mainstream, but we think 2011 will be about NFC and mobile payments. At least Windows Phone won't be left on the sidelines.