We adventured around the city on the day of the launch of the Facebook Phone in both the US and UK. The phone won’t be released in the UK until the fall, but was released by AT&T in the US on April 12th.
As we can see in the video, people aren’t quite sure yet what the Facebook phone is or how to describe it. They aren’t sure if it has NFC (it does). They also didn’t seem to be too confident that it will do as well as the previous version of the HTC Status, which had enhanced Facebook functionality and was a flop. We bought the phone at around 11:30am and according to the store we were the first ones to buy it. There wasn’t any revolutionary pitch - it was basically, “if your life is Facebook then that comes first and the phone comes second”.
According to reviews and reports it will have VOIP features through the phone and the SMS messaging will be transcribed and done through Facebook even if that wasn’t what was said in the store. Most interestingly for omnichannel, the phone does in fact have NFC. This will mean that an entire younger generation will have the ability to start tapping as payment, transferring data between devices and interacting with speakers and appliances become more everyday tasks.
This journey also proved a good time to continue our survey of people’s education and understanding of NFC. For the first time, we met someone in the AT&T store who is using NFC tags for phone preferences on his Samsung Galaxy phone. He has tags in his car and his home that allow the phone to have loud volume (in the car) and to shut off (when at home). He goes on to predict that NFC is the future for a number of applications and that Apple will have to offer it.
In the UK, everyone knew about NFC and described it for payment as well as the ability to transfer music from your phone to your speakers. In the US, the guy at T-mobile was a little eager on NFC in answering the question. We asked “which phones have NFC?” and he confidently said, “all of them.” That was until his manager overheard him and corrected the statement. But he, perhaps unknowingly, is answering as if he we’re 18 month in the future, when asking whether a phone has NFC will be like asking if a smartphone has ‘the internet’.
However, on the topic of tapping to pay, in the US we have quite a way to go to catch up with the progress made in the UK. The AT&T employee noted that, although they have tap to pay, he’d only ever seen two people try to pay - neither of whom were successful - and he stressed his own personal concerns around secure payment via NFC.
One thing is for sure, NFC is becoming more well known for numerous uses. No one could predict the future better than our friend at AT&T, “it going to be really amazing or really crap.” Personally, my money’s on amazing.