Gartner’s Hype Cycle places NFC at ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’

The Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is designed “to highlight the common pattern of overenthusiasm, disillusionment and eventual realism that accompanies each new technology and innovation,” says the company.

GARTNER: NFC payments heading for the trough?

Market researcher Gartner has placed NFC payments in the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectation’ in its Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2011 report.

Gartner currently analyses 1,900 different technologies and places them into one of 76 different Hype Cycles. In the new report, NFC payment is located alongside activity streams, wireless power, internet TV and private cloud computing as technologies that are eagerly anticipated but are yet to fulfill market their potential.

“The Hype Cycle graphic has been used by Gartner since 1995 to highlight the common pattern of over-enthusiasm, disillusionment and eventual realism that accompanies each new technology and innovation,” the company explains.

“Themes from this year’s emerging technologies Hype Cycle include ongoing interest and activity in social media, cloud computing and mobile,” Gartner’s Jackie Fenn explains. “On the social media side, social analytics, activity streams and a new entry for group buying are close to the peak, showing that the era of sky-high valuations for Web 2.0 startups is not yet over. Private cloud computing has taken over from more-general cloud computing at the top of the peak, while cloud/web platforms have fallen toward the Trough of Disillusionment since 2010.”

Gartner's Hype Cycle for 2011
ON TOP OF THE WORLD? Gartner puts NFC payments right at the top of its hype curve, facing an uncomfortable slide into consumer and industry disillusionment. Hold on tight! Click to enlarge.

“Mobile technologies continue to be part of most of our clients’ short- and long-range plans and are present on this Hype Cycle in the form of media tablets, NFC payments, QR codes and color codes, mobile application stores and location-aware applications,” Fenn adds.

Many of the technologies featured on this Hype Cycle contribute to the four themes featured in Gartner’s recent report on top technology trends, “Technology Trends That Matter”:

  • The connected world: Advances in embedded sensors, processing and wireless connectivity are bringing the power of the digital world to objects and places in the physical world. This is a slow-moving area, but one that is now accelerating with the growing pervasiveness of low-cost embedded sensors and cameras, says Gartner. Relevant entries on this year’s Hype Cycle include the broad trend referred to as the Internet of Things; identification technologies, such as NFC payments (which will lead to broader use of NFC for other applications); QR and color codes and image recognition; application layers, such as augmented reality, context-enriched services and location-aware applications; and communication technologies, such as machine-to-machine communication services and sensor mesh networks. “Although this area will take at least another decade to unfold fully, many interesting and profitable opportunities will arise along the way,” Gartner says.
  • Interface trends: User interfaces are another slow-moving area with significant recent activity, says Gartner. Speech recognition was on the original 1995 Hype Cycle and has still not reached maturity, and computer-brain interfaces will evolve for at least another 10 years before moving out of research and niche status. Gesture recognition has also been launched into the mainstream through Microsoft’s Kinect gaming system, which is now being hacked by third parties to create a range of application interfaces. Other areas continue to progress more slowly, including speech-to-speech translation, augmented reality and virtual assistants, while virtual worlds remain entrenched in the trough after peaking in 2007.
  • Analytical advances: Supporting the storage and manipulation of raw data to derive greater value and insight, these technologies continue to grow in capability and applicability, Gartner has found. Predictive analytics is approaching maturity, but researchers and developers continue to apply and improve the core techniques for new data sources. Image recognition is driving new capabilities in search, retail and social media, and also contributes to advances in other areas, such as augmented reality and video analytics, for customer service. Social analytics continues to take advantage of new sources and types of social information. Computational advances, such as in-memory database management systems and big data, take the scope and scale to new levels.
  • New digital frontiers: Crossing the traditional boundaries of IT, new capabilities are reaching levels of performance and pricing that will fundamentally reshape processes and even industries, says Gartner. Examples on this year’s Hype Cycle include 3D printing and bioprinting (of human tissue), and mobile robots.

So, is NFC payment right at the peak of inflated expectations, facing a long rollercoaster ride into the trough of disillusionment? Gartner thinks so, and predicts that mainstream adoption of the technology is still five to ten years away. What do you think — share your thoughts in the comment section below.