NFC of Near Field Communication seems to be the word of the moment. In essence its the technology that allows 2 devices to swap information - payment, data over a small physical distance. From ticketing with an Oyster card through to quick payment with your phone its pretty cool and simple technology. The phone play is where it starts to heat up. At present the new Google Nexus 2 phone has got the technology, but Apple are still holding back. A mistake I thought, but was corrected by someone recently with "Apple don't make mistakes, Google do".
Since the web really launched, it has been direct response clients that have really ruled the roost, they made Google famous, responsible for underwriting most of the technology that runs the web and drove the whole ability to pay and transact online. The FMCG market and small ticket retailers have been very much left behind and a little confused. Its tough to sell beer online.
Online DR has been the darling of the web for a long time. It wasn't just a marketing tool for many, it was a full end to end business from initial touch to sale and service at the other end. Many of these businesses chuckled quite happily at retailers with shops, seeing the ball and chain of legacy.
But NFC seems to be the final link in the chain. We have seen the claiming back of technology by the people through the rise of social and now as smart phones continue to blur the edges of small computers and big phones, the good old fashioned outlet seems to be coming back into fashion. Not only location based services like Gowalla or Foursquare, but the ability now to really start to link into purchase and "on the move" behaviour.
For a long time brands haven't really leveraged their non cash assets or realised them as a marketing tool. On pack, instore, at event all suddenly seem very exciting and very relevant, all we needed was to wire them up, which is where NFC will come into its own. Bricks and mortar coming back into fashion and if anything being the competitive edge (perhaps this is why the second word of the moment is the "Pop Up Shop").
I suspect Google will make it work and Apple will inspire us with it. Exciting times ahead.