Research in Motion can’t brag about industry-leading market share numbers in too many areas these days, but one area they are still hanging tough in is NFC support, at least in Great Britain. According to an interview given to The Inquirer by Gerry Kelliher, RIM's senior director of sales and operations, 80% of all NFC-enabled handsets sold in the UK in the first quarter of 2012 were Blackberrys.
NFC payments and check-ins have been slow to catch on outside of Japan, and one of the problems has been the lack of NFC-enabled handsets. The iPhone lacks them, and outside of Nexus devices NFC has been somewhat slow in coming in Android handsets as well. Windows Phone won’t support NFC until Apollo ships later this fall. What does this mean for RIM? With their market advantage they may be able to find financial partners that want to attract early adopters, which in turn may mean RIM can strike some good deals with them.
RIM probably has a smallish window of opportunity here; NFC-equipped handset sales picked up in 2011, and are expected to increase even more rapidly in 2012. Thus any advantage they have may be short-lived unless they can increase their overall smartphone market share. Which pretty much brings us back to the same place: RIM needs to hit a home run with its first BB10 handsets this year. If it does, between enterprise security and NFC ubiquity it may find it still has some advantages it can leverage.
But first they need a winning BB10 handset.