Smartphone makers will continue to include Near Field Communications (NFC) in their devices, whether or not consumers actually use the technology. 

According to IHS Technology, global shipments of cellphones equipped with NFC are set to surge by a factor of four from 2013 to 2018, reaching 1.2 billion units. 

Last year, global shipments of NFC-enabled cellphones hit 275 million units, up 128 percent from 120 million in 2012. IHS expect the to expand by more than 50 percent this year to reach 416 million. 

While those numbers are impressive, NFC was integrated into just 18.2 percent of the 1.5 billion cellphones shipped worldwide in 2013. In 2018, NFC penetration will rise to 64 percent.

Don Tait, senior financial and ID market analyst at IHS, pointed out in a statement that the majority of smartphone makers are adopting the NFC in their products as a de facto standard.

“This strong momentum will allow the NFC cellphone market to overcome barriers, including a lack of compelling services and applications, and the sluggish progress on establishing the required infrastructure,” Tait said. 

Tait points out that perhaps the biggest challenge for NFC is for developers to create useful applications that leverage the technology. 

Apple has been notably absent from the NFC game so far. The company has placed a bet on its iBeacon technology, which is powered by Bluetooth Low Energy.