tikitagTikitag, a service that enables the launching of online applications by touching a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or (NFC) device like a cellphone to an item tagged with an RFID Chip, has launched in India. The Belgian company is backed by Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, and is fairly unique in what they’re trying to do:

How it works
What’s interesting about Tikitag is that it is a do-it-yourself RFID kit: you don’t need a massive infrastructure deployment. The startup kit costs around $49.95 (we’re not sure if there will be a markup/import duty in case of India), and includes a reader which may be attached to a computer and 10 RFID tags to stick to devices. So you just need to swipe the tag over the reader (or the other way around) to launch one of the many applications like a GMail login, System Shut Down, Business Card (possibly competing with QR Codes at some level).

tikitag application

The Tikitag service is fairly new – the open beta was launched as recently as October 2008, and they probably are eying India because, well, of the mobile phone market that it is made out to be. Tikitag’s advantage lies if the fact that it is interoperable, and can be used (apparently) with any NFC or RFID reader. But that is where the problem lies:

The Market, The Timing
There just aren’t enough NFC/RFID readers in India, so the possiblities for Tikitag are limited until a handset manufacturer installs it, and a retail infrastructure is deployed. Adding an NFC chip to a handset increases the cost of the handset, so they haven’t been too kean on it.

Apart from this, the deployment of RFID chips at a consumer level is minimal, except perhaps the Delhi Metro travel card, and one cant use that to view content on the mobile phone. It will also be quite an issue to educate consumers about the possibilities of using Tikitag: one would need to be fairly tech savvy to buy something like this. At a $50 price point, the mass market just isn’t there. Tikitag has entered India at least 3 years too early…Near Field Communication in India doesn’t appear to be too near.