Smartphone by definition are the high end of the mobile phone industry and highly desired by early adopters. They have however created an interesting problem with how smartphones are effectively financed via 24 month contracts. Ofcom recognise the high cost of these handsets has resulted in the ‘de facto’ standard contract length rising considerably to 24 months in their report The Communications Market 2012.
Those willing try new things with their devices are likely to have a device over 12 months old when you take into account the lead time from release to purchase and the contract length. Any new features such as NFC or 4G will therefore stagnate for some time before you can safely assume any level of reasonable adoption. This potentially creates a chicken and egg situation which compounds the stagnation or worse threatens the viability of the feature.
Overall the situation has parallels with browser adoption and standards compliance but their is no easy fix. Unlike browsers, phones cost consumers money.
There is one ray of hope and that is the combination of sim free phones and the nil-subsidy sim only contracts. Ironic that this is a model Apple attempted to bring with their first iPhone release.