More and more these days, the solutions we implement at TapTrack lend themselves to a 10” NFC enabled tablet. In fact, we joke at the office how the Nexus 10 will go down in history as one of the best tablet values of all time. But alas, those are no longer stocked at Google and the second hand market is drying up. This leaves us to search for other tablets in the 10” category that are NFC enabled. There are few.
In general, I can see NFC being left out of tablets moving forward. Currently the Nexus 7 is still for sale and features NFC and I’m sure there are many 7” or 8” models still featuring the technology, however 10” tablets are a different story. This doesn’t shock me since the last couple years has seen numerous inexpensive basic Android tablets hit the market at prices around $80. For the makers of these basic tablets, NFC is likely the first feature that is removed. After all, how many people really ask about NFC when buying a tablet?
The same can be said for phones as well, although NFC is likely to persist as a phone feature as it plays a key role in mobile payments, however one is unlikely to ever pay with their tablet, making NFC an unneeded and expensive feature. NFC controllers, even at high volume, could be in the price range of $3 or more depending on the manufacturer. For a seldom used feature, it’s easy to rationalize NFC’s removal. I could find quotes on the TI and NXP controllers online, and at high volumes the unit prices were ~$4.50 and ~$5.50 respectively, representing 6% of the total sale price of an $80 tablet.
Nonetheless we press on at TapTrack, and in the coming months we will release a BLE enabled NFC reader that will be able to pair with any basic tablet or fancy iPad to create a powerful NFC kiosk. For now we are using the Sony 10” tablets with NFC in our solutions, but at a hefty $550 price tag, the cost of our BLE connected NFC reader paired with a basic tablet will be a better value and provide a superior user experience. Since the reader on tablets is often on the back of the device, it makes useless in many kiosk applications (again, the Nexus 10 could read on the front, but it’s no longer stocked).
Perhaps all this is a sign that not enough compelling non payment applications of NFC have broken through. I’d be interested to know how many iPhone users gave feedback asking for NFC, but I’d venture a guess at almost none. Our BLE connected NFC reader will make it easy to give NFC interactivity to a tablet in kiosk or even gaming applications.