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Nokia ignites the NFC marketplace

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Friday, September 09, 2011

And then, all of a sudden, Nokia potentially switch on a few million NFC smartphones.

Last week, Nokia released a major software update to their latest smartphones, running the Symbian ^3 operating system. One of those handsets, the Nokia C7 has long been known to have NFC hardware inside the chassis, although it was unreachable from software.

That’s all changed now, as the NFC chip is now ready for use in the wild. While it might not have the name recognition on the street as Google’s Nexus/Android combination, it’s already being used by developers in a number of applications, from unlocking levels in Angry Birds Magic and setting up bluetooth connections on stereo speakers, to advertising and file transfers.

The real value is going to be in having a mass market handset that networks can use to trial NFC mobile payments. Orange in the UK are running their trial with the Samsung Tocco, a feature phone with Java support, but far from what many people would consider a smartphone. The Nokia C7 changes that. While the choice of Symbian OS might raise the eyebrows of the American market, it’s the same system that runs on the best selling Nokia N8, so is familiar to the operators, loved by consumers, and is a far easier sell for a large trial than the payment only focus on the Tocco.

I’d expect the next wave of trials in the UK and Europe to be running on the C7.