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Home > News > Smart packaging opportunities grow as Apple opens up NFC

Smart packaging opportunities grow as Apple opens up NFC


Apple announced at WWDC 2017 that iOS 11 will have support for reading NFC tags and NDEF messages. This means that all iPhone 7 and newer will be able to read NFC tags just like Android.

Cameron Worth, founder of SharpEnd, the first agency dedicated to connecting brands and consumers via the Internet of Things, has considered how the tech giant’s latest move could impact consumer behavior.

“There are two key drivers for NFC adoption for brands, firstly is it available on Apple? Up until now Apple didn’t open up their NFC capability except for Apple Pay. The second barrier was that the cost of the NFC tag itself. Today’s announcement marks a significant change in the audience size for NFC trials, and the question around cost is being addressed via innovations in printing techniques.

“Apple announcing their devices will be able to read NFC forum type 1-5 tags will dramatically reduce the barriers to entry for brands wanting to invest in NFC as their smart packaging technology or choice. Evolutions in printed electronics and flexible plastics mean we will also see NFC become much more commercially feasible for large-volume consumer products and move away from just high value goods (Pernod Ricard, Coty etc)into the Unilever’s and General Mill’s of this world.”

Cameron Worth founder SharpEnd

Cameron Worth, founder, SharpEnd

Sharp End has been involved in the largest NFC connected bottle trials globally with Malibu, Jameson and others and Worth envisages vast growth in engagement with Apple opening up the technology.

“We have already seen engagement rates of 2-3% on average for our own NFC trials (before the Apple announcement). We are now expecting at least 3x that with some brands and markets.

“iPhones NFC announcement is key because of their ecosystem, this will be fully integrated technology and will go a long way into changing consumer behavior around tapping. Samsung worked hard to build an ecosystem around their NFC but they’ve never been as good as Apple at getting their device users to adopt new tech or behaviours.

“Consumers are getting used to tapping stuff with their phones and getting stuff in return, but until now brands have had to create that behavior in isolation (Malibu trial, Jameson trial etc) .

“I’ve been working with brands to adopt NFC at scale for the last six years of my professional life. With each Apple conference, it felt like we were getting closer to the announcement we were waiting for and it’s now finally here. There was only a handful of us 5-6 years ago who were working on this area of the tech and this morning I received emails from all of them which was a real IoT community vibe. Today we witnessed the tipping point into the mainstream.”