Yesterday evening, I exchanged a couple of debating points with some others in the industry, after one of them had reported hearing a at a conference that Nokia would include NFC chips, allegedly in all its smartphones, next year.
(I doubt that's accurate - if you're racing to the bottom vs Android on smartphone pricing in India, for example, you don't put a few $ of useless bill-of-materals in all your products, especially those sold in markets with no readers)
We've also heard a lot of hype in the past couple of weeks about NFC chips supposedly going to be in the next iPhone and also the next Gingerbread-powered iterations of Android. It's also worth noting that the "official" NFC may sometimes get confused with other short-range RFID solutions.
Anyway, all that is outside the point of this post, except as context. And irony, given what happened next:
In short, my phone spontaneously turned into a brick. One minute I was taking a photo at an interesting event last night, then switched it off. And it stayed off. Completely black - nothing happened holding the power button, the home button, nor trying the usual trick of physically hitting it against the table. [It was on about 85% battery]
This was at about 8pm, just before the start of the dinner & event I was attending.
Eventually when I got home, attached to my PC, looked up on the (PC!) web for help & support, and eventually reincarnated it by holding all the buttons down together for about 20 seconds.
I was very, very glad that it hadn't contained my wallet, my house-keys, or my Oyster London travelcard. Maybe an NFC chip might have worked with the phone dead. Maybe not. But would I have felt like taking a chance, and staying out until 11.30pm & having a really enjoyable evening, knowing I might need to call a locksmith when I got home? Or if I'd get home, if the tube ticket barriers rejected my defunct psuedo-Oyster?
Instead, I was just mildly grumpy I'd have to reorder another phone and I'd lost a few weeks' of photos, phone numbers and other stuff, since I'd last backed up.
[Sidenote: would I pay for a network backup service even after this experience? No, probably not. But I am glad I've got the phone from an operator, on a subsidy, with a warranty, who I could have harassed for a replacement. And I will be syncing it with my PC more often]
Yes, I know that NFC is supposed to work when the battery is dead. But in this case the kicker was that it wasn't dead.... there was *something* going on in the phone, as when I breathed life back into it, it had dropped to 32% battery, and still felt slightly warm 5 minutes after I'd taken it out of my pocket. Will NFC work when the OS is stuck in a loop or some other software / firmware Hades?
Will any phone company want to take the risk that crashed phones render m-wallets and m-keys useless? What's the support cost of that? Could I have charged the locksmith to my telco, if I'd bought its phone-lock service? Or will they try and bill you extra for insurance?
The bottom line: I'm very glad that my phone isn't a "single point of failure for my life". Ironic that I had a wake-up call just after a discussion about NFC.