Applications of NFC?
Suica sounds like a good idea - especially the diversion into papers/magazines/vending machines in lieu of currency. Sort of like an Oyster card invented by people with a clue. [re. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_002.html ] My work clock-in/out card works like that. Just pick up the bit of plastic with my name on it, wave it at the machine stuck on the wall until it notices, then put the plastic back.
Other than that, for most of the things I've seen, it seems NFC is largely a solution looking for a problem. That said, in the case of my work, I can tell you we have nearly a eighty people in the course of a day, which will want to clock in, out to break, in from break, out at the end. In the case of Suica, can you imagine how many people pass through a train station guard barrier in the course of a day? It makes sense to remove the mechanical component, the need to make electrical contact with something. The latter, I mention, because my supermarket is always telling me my card is "muette" (whatever that translates to be in English). No, my card is usually fine, I insert my card upside down and push it in/out vigorously, then try again with the card in correctly and it works. I have no idea how many people use cards at that terminal in that shop in the course of a day. If we say 200, then it's a thousand in a week. Fifty-odd thousand in a year. But I might be underestimating by an order of magnitude. What's the rated insert/remove lifespan of a smart card reader? Wouldn't it be simpler and more reliable if you just had to wave something near something else? This is one potential application of NFC.
But, between you and me, right now I'd prefer KFC to NFC. :-) Damn, I'm hungry...