MEF, the global community for mobile content and commerce, has released its 10 predictions for 2012.

Top of the list is NFC. MEF predicts that there will be increased investment with some spectacular trials, but that it will still fail to have a significant commercial impact.

Andrew Bud, MEF global chair, said:

This is partly due to the relatively limited number of handsets out there with NFC technology, but also that the consumer benefits haven’t been demonstrated.

He said that although everyone understands the capabilities, NFC is still a solution waiting for a problem:

There will be a lot of good ideas put into practice in 2012, and there will be some spectacular failures, but in order for it to work there have to be failures. Before it will catch on someone has to find a use that works for consumers.

Also in the list of predictions are the twin concerns of security and privacy.

Bud said the industry based on consumers paying for items on their mobiles is already worth $35bn a year, so people are willing to pay on mobile if the correct product and payment method are available.

“The industry needs to find a way of providing a simple and safe payment method, but as you make things safer they inevitable become more complicated. We need to work to find the right balance,” he said.

The final prediction on the list is that location-based social commerce will replace social networking as the focus for mobile innovation for brands and retailers.

We have got a sense from our members that they have tried social media and it worked okay, but it is a bit yesterday. Location-based services and social commerce are so important as it is about closing the deal, whereas social networks are more about advertising.

Bud admitted that there was still some way to go to overcome consumer concerns around targeted advertising, but he believes people value not being pestered with irrelevant content and also value good service.

He said, “If you can use location data to provide a good and relevant service it will overcome these issues.”

The full list of predictions is as follows:

1. NFC: 2012 will be the year that the industry ‘gets’ NFC and there will be increased investment with some spectacular trials, but it will fail to have a significant commercial impact.

2. Security: Regulators worldwide will be brought face-to-face with the security challenges of in-app billing, and new regulations will emerge.

3. Privacy: As Smartphones and mobile connected devices continue to become more widespread, increasingly complex and diverse attitudes towards privacy will cause chaos in the industry.

4. Nokia/Microsoft Alliance: The Smartphone landscape will evolve into a three horse race, accelerated by local focus in high growth markets.

5. HTML 5: Operators will face yet more capacity challenges arising from the surge in the use of HTML5 and the consequent stimulus to audio visual content.

6. SMS: Brands, content owners and retailers will retain SMS in their mobile toolkit to further engage consumers in content and commerce.  

7. Games: 2012 will see mobile connected devices challenge consoles as the platform of choice for high-end gaming.

8. Mobile Payments: Carrier wallets and screen based payments will start to supersede PSMS in Atlantic markets.

9. Apps and multi-screen: The maturing mobile apps ecosystem will extend to infotainment in cars and the living room in 2012.

10. Geo-social: Location-based social commerce will replace social networking as the focus for mobile innovation by retailers and brands.