Comms chips

Near-Field Inches Nearer

Near-Field Communications (NFC) has suddenly grown from a base of just a few handsets to potentially all Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) phones starting in 2011 and more, thanks to Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM)'s planned acquisition of NFC leader Innovision Research & Technology plc . (See Broadcom to Buy NFC Chipmaker.)

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

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:31:46 PM
re: Near-Field Inches Nearer

Hi Stefan,

That was a clarification from a Nokia spokesman, however, he didn't say that it wouldn't be in other smartphones -- just that it wasn't going to be immediately available in all phones. I'm guessing that means Nokia will start with NFC chips in some of its high-end Symbian ^4 phones than gradually introduce it to other phones down the line.

Here's some more information at AllAboutSymbian.com:



DevilsRejection 12/5/2012 | 4:31:46 PM
re: Near-Field Inches Nearer

What exactly is your source as to the clarification that NFC would only be going in Symbian^4 devices, and not other smartphones from Nokia?


Stefan, Editor @ IntoMobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:31:45 PM
re: Near-Field Inches Nearer

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the post and the clarification. I'll update the story to reflect that Nokia was the one backtracking. A Nokia spokesman followed-up with me to confirm that Nokia will begin integrating NFC into its phones in 2011, but it may not include global variants. I am sure they are just covering their bases in case some phones don't end up including it. Thanks again.



Sarah Clark 12/5/2012 | 4:31:45 PM
re: Near-Field Inches Nearer

Hi Sarah

I'm the editor of NFC World and we published the original news article about Nokia's NFC plans. Just to clarify things, there is no doubt that Mr Vanjoki told the Mobey Forum that NFC would be in all new smartphones from 2011 - it has been confirmed by multiple sources. It does seem, however, that a Nokia spokesperson has given different information to All Things Symbian. Hopefully, we'll hear from Nokia soon as to what the truth of the matter really is...

Sarah Clark, Editor, NFC World

Sign In