Whatever happened to e-contacts

For some reason completely opaque to me a thought popped into my head when I received my new iPhone 5, the latest pinnacle of the mobile experience (discuss). Whatever happened to the idea of automatically swapping electronic business cards? I know there are many iPhone apps which help manage contacts but that’s not really what I mean.

Way back in 1996 the PalmPilot Personal came out and we all marveled that we could sit around a conference table and swap contacts electronically with the click on one button. Obviously everyone had to have a PalmPilot to make it work, but still, it seemed like it was obvious that exchanging contact information with anyone was bound to become a standard protocol.

Yet here we are in 2012 and we can’t even do this natively from the most popular smartphone. There are individual apps which have tried to solve the problem on the iPhone such as these but the compatibility problem is still here. Given the ubiquitous requirement for swapping contact details it is a mystery to me why a standard has never emerged.