The past year has seen a flood of speculation about whether or not future iPhones would feature Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities. NFC technology would embed a special chip into your phone; waving the phone at a reader near a cash register would automatically pay for those items from one of your accounts.
According to a Bernstein analysis that was quoted on Business Insider this morning, the next-generation iPhone (allegedly to be called the iPhone 4S) will not feature NFC. As the BI post points out, the lack of NFC won't be that much of a problem for Apple in the short run, as the technology isn't widely used in the US. However, the Bernstein report also notes that NFC could provide Apple with another US$4 - $9 billion in extra revenue based on the company's current share of the high-end smartphone market once (if) enabled.
The Bernstein report echoes statements from UK mobile carriers in March of this year that NFC would not be an option on the next-generation iPhone. There have also been rumblings that Apple might be developing its own technology to enable payments. Whatever the Cupertino crew decides to do, it's obvious that we'll have to wait until at least 2012 to see it.