Near-Field Inches Nearer
The technology lets users make contactless payments and could revolutionize the market for mobile ticketing and cashless payments.
They're separate but well timed announcements. Broadcom confirmed the all-cash offer yesterday, around the same time that Nokia vice president for markets Anssi Vanjoki told the Mobey Forum that chipsets enabling NFC, a short-range data transfer technology similar to Bluetooth, would be embedded in future Nokia smartphones come 2011.
Vanjoki didn't say NFC would be in all smartphones, as most reported, but that Nokia would start to incorporate the technology into its Symbian^4 portfolio next year.
[Correction: Vanjoki did in fact tell Mobey Forum attendees that NFC would be embedded in all NFC smartphones. It was a Nokia spokesman doing the backtracking. Nokia’s official PR stance is that starting in 2011, its global smartphone portfolio will begin to include NFC. This may or may not include country variants. It’s not getting any more specific than that, so believe whom you will.]
Vanjoki didn't reveal many details, but he did say that Nokia will make tools available to developers to take advantage of the NFC capabilities and open business models. He also didn't say which NFC standards will be supported, but support for Single Wire Protocol (SWP) and MicroSD security is likely.
This is good news for a technology that's been heralded as the enabler for the ultimate, yet distant, goal of mobile payment and ticketing services. The biggest stumbling block has been the expense of installing NFC chips in phones -- and in readers in enough outlets to make the payment technology worthwhile.
Nokia, the technology's biggest proponent, has also wavered in its commitment to NFC in the past, scrapping plans for an NFC handset when it felt the user experience wasn't up to par. But, with a trial of NFC underway in France by Salt SA , using the Player One handset from rival Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), Nokia appears ready to up the stakes. (See Nice Move for NFC.) Broadcom could be a catalyst to driving NFC chipset prices down by combining the technology with its radios on a single chip. This is something it's done for several other technologies, including WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and FM, and it is also a strategy that competitor Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) is pursuing. (See Qualcomm Adds Support to Chipsets.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile