The NFC Hits The Fan

With the Mi 4 phone, Xiaomi didn’t include NFC as it did in prior phones, claiming that its user statistics showed it wasn’t being used.

When Apple announced NFC in the iPhone 6-series yesterday, I just knew something would erupt in China about Xiaomi dropping NFC. And I was right.

The first Weibo communiqué:


So a bunch of people affiliated with Xiaomi are asked about NFC being in the iPhone 6-series when Xiaomi dropped it from the new Mi 4 phone, also pointing out that Samsung and Huawei also included NFC.

And this fellow — I don’t know how he’s affiliated with Xiaomi, but he and Lei Jun have swapped Weibos — goes ballistic. He begins saying he assumes the question is innocent but then questions the motive behind the question! He then accuses the guy of being an agent of Huawei and using a Fortune 500 company (Apple) to belittle Xiaomi!

The second Weibo communiqué:


He says that Xiaomi put NFC in over ten million phones and it was shown that people weren’t using it. Xiaomi didn’t “abandon” NFC, customers showed they had no use for it! If NFC is necessary, tell me how people are using it!

He has a point, of course. The one time that Xiaomi was ahead of Apple, they took a step back with the Mi 4 and now it looks like they have egg on their face.

But even if Xiaomi had kept NFC in the Mi 4, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would have been compatible with what Apple is doing.

NFC is nothing but a communications protocol for exchanging data. The format of the data that Apple is using is likely proprietary to Apple. So even if every damn phone in China — and every tablet too — included NFC, that wouldn’t necessarily mean they could go up to a merchant’s NFC transceiver and make a purchase. It remains to be seen if the NFC data scheme Apple is using will be a standard or exclusive to Apple.

Let’s all remember that at one time Steve Jobs said he wanted Facetime to be open so that any device could use it. That still hasn’t happened and Apple never mentioned it again. So I wouldn’t be surprised if “Apple Pay” remains as a method only Apple devices can ever use.

And as for the fellow who went postal here, he’s done that before on Weibo. He’s not someone who takes any shit and he can be very strong in his opinions.

And at post time, none of the other people affiliated with Xiaomi bothered to reply about NFC.

1 Comment

Filed under Android, Apple: The Company

One response to “The NFC Hits The Fan

  1. Ric Day

    NFC transactions require at least two players: the consumer and the vendor. Which means, the vendor’s payment systems need to be set up to deal with the consumer’s payment record. And that is where things can get tricky, because the vendor may request more data about the consumer than is strictly needed for the transaction (I.e. the vendor is building a database of consumer information).

    Friends and family living in China tell me they regard NFC there as “mostly” a gimmick because almost no retailers will deal with it. Apple appears to be doing the NFC roll-out the right way: one country at a time with _lots_ of major retail chains pre-committed to accepting the payments.

    If NFC is to succeed, the approach Apple is taking looks to be the right one, although it will be expensive to launch.

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