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  • NFC vs. iBeacon: How do they really stack up?

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Near Field Communications, or NFC, is a powerful consumer engagement technology that has taken a massively bad rap over the past two years.

Many dismissed it when Apple didn't put it in the iPhone 5. Then, the slower-than-projected adoption of NFC-based mobile payments prompted some to proclaim NFC dead. Apple's Airpass feature, a peer-to-peer communication capability released in iOS7, raised additional doubts about NFC's viability and now Apple's iBeacon feature, another iOS7 capability, has whipped the press into an anti-NFC frenzy.

Since Apple's 2013 announcement, the press has been praising iBeacon for its ability to passively identify the in-venue presence of smartphone-equipped consumers. They have also been praising it for its ability to passively notify and then subsequently deliver localized information. These features, along with the press' embrace of iBeacon's perceived ease-of-use, location services, energy efficiency, security and low cost, have made iBeacon the sweetheart of the tech industry.

Since the press' enthusiasm for iBeacon has gone largely unchallenged, many have taken the liberty to label NFC as irrelevant because it lacks iBeacon-like features. But, is this the truth?

It's time to set the record straight. To learn the truth about iBeacon and to better understand the true capabilities of NFC, download and take a look at the following two documents (from Digital Signage Today sister site Mobile Payments Today):

1. An infographic that compares iBeacon to NFC.

2. A white paper that provides a detailed comparison of iBeacon to NFC.

I think what you'll see will be revealing.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • R B
    5053916
    NFC has its uses and beacons have theirs. Everyone is talking about using iBeacons to send deals to consumers. We have so many ways to get deals that they will eventually be too much. iBeacons can be used for so many other things. At Mahana (www.getmahana.com) for example, we are using them to automate things that consumers used to have to do manually. Anyone interested in iBeacons should come to the Beacon Meetup at SXSWi. Robert Scoble is the keynote. http://btle.eventbrite.com
  • John Smith
    5036431
    There is another solution that should be added to the list that iSign Media put out that can send offers through Bluetooth and wifi without an app. People need to be educated on what a beacon actually does and the down sides to it!
  • Steve Gurley
    5034045
    John Smith, be sure to read my white paper. I think you'll find that it provides the upside as well as the downside of BLE beacons.
  • Andy Cavallini
    4986363
    Nice Post! I'm currently involved in an iBeacon Proof-of-Concept for a big box european retailer, and I published a white-paper about iBeacons-at-work titled "iBeacon Bible"; feel free to download it from my blogsite http://www.gaia-matrix.com; it can be valuable if you're involved in this technology or just want to know more. Andy Cavallini
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The Converging Worlds of NFC and Mobile

Latest posts by Steven Gurley
Steven Gurley
Steve Gurley is broadly recognized as an industry expert and thought-leader in mobile and mobile content management solutions. He is a widely published author of numerous papers, articles and blogs on mobility and serves on numerous mobile advisory boards and committees, including serving as the current chairman of the Digital Screenmedia Association's committee on mobile. Steve is currently the President and CEO of Pyrim Technologies, a mobile business and new market development company.
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