NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank have created the “Japan Mobile NFC Consortium,” which will help the three carriers coordinate and adopt an international NFC standard. Currently, all three operators offer an NFC service dubbed Osaifu-Keitai (wallet phone) which uses a contactless-IC smartcard that’s called FeliCa. Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t work overseas where other carriers use Type A or Type B NFC standards, which means Osaifu-Ketai won’t function properly for NTT DoCoMo, KDDI or SoftBank customers hoping to use their phones for mobile payments overseas. The three carriers hope they can work with handset makers and vendors to encourage the adoption of Type A and Type B NFC standards. The consortium also aims to “create an environment in Japan where service providers can offer efficient, low-cost NFC services based on common standards and rules adopted by the three mobile operators.” The full press release follows after the break. More →
Spanish wireless carrier Telefónica Digital announced Wednesday that it has partnered with Research In Motion on a new NFC-based mobile wallet pilot in Spain. The carrier provided 350 of its employees with NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones that are pre-loaded with its Telefónica Wallet application. The phones can be used to purchase goods and services at local retailers, or to open doors at the Telefónica’s headquarters with a simple tap to another NFC sensor. Read on for more. More →
Market research firm In-Stat released a report on Monday that suggests NFC chip shipments will grow dramatically during the next several years as an increasing number of mobile devices adopt near-field communications (NFC) technology. In-Stat said NFC chip shipments will surpass 1.2 billion units by 2015, the same year the technology is expected to reach a 30% global penetration. “As the costs of NFC chips decline, and NFC radios are combined with other chip functions, the cost to integrate NFC into handsets will be outweighed by the benefits,” In-Stat research director Allen Nogee said. “The growth of combo chips will also allow NFC radios to piggyback on technology that already has significant penetration in the market. For example, Bluetooth radios, which currently have 100% market penetration, can be integrated with NFC radios, making the choice to include NFC easy for OEMs.” Read on for more. More →
New Jersey Transit will soon introduce limited support for Google’s NFC-based mobile payment system, Bloomberg Businessweek reported on Wednesday. Google Wallet is currently only available on one handset, Sprint’s Nexus S 4G, and supports a handful of retailers including Foot Locker, Macy’s, Jamba Juice, Walgreens and Subway. Commuters will be able to use the handset to quickly purchase tickets in a tap-and-go fashion at New York Penn Station, Newark Liberty International Airport Rail Station and several bus lines including the 120, 87, 81, 80, 43, 6 and 126. “Transit is the fastest way to accelerate adoption and reach usage density in major urban centers by habituating the behavior of tapping and paying with phones,” Google vice president of commerce Stephanie Tilenius said. More →
Broadcom on Monday announced the BCM2079x family of NFC chips which it hopes will spur the mass adoption of NFC. The 40nm-based chips are smaller and are reportedly the most power efficient solution currently available to device makers. Broadcom said the products use 40% fewer components on a 40% smaller surface area and consume 90% less power than competing models. The chips also support a new technology called “Maestro middleware” that allows developers to create NFC apps with support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. “Broadcom is committed to making NFC as ubiquitous as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are today,” Broadcom vice president and general manager Craig Ochikubo said. “These solutions provide the features and performance that enable disruptive innovation that will reshape consumer experience.” Read on for Broadcom’s full press release. More →
Visa is accelerating its efforts to dominate the mobile payment space, Reuters reported on Monday. Visa is no stranger to mobile payments. It began trialing an iPhone NFC payment solution in Europe early this year, has plans to work with Samsung on a system for the 2012 Olympics, and recently announced that it has partnered with ISIS for the development of a mobile payment network in the United States. “As mobile payments and other chip-based emerging technologies are poised to take off in the coming years, we are taking steps today to create a commercial framework that will support growth opportunities,” Visa’s global head of product Jim McCarty told Reuters. More →
141.1 million people around the world will make mobile payments this year, a 38.2% increase from last year, Gartner said in a new report issued on Friday. Global mobile payment volume is expected to hit $86.1 billion in 2011, up 75.9% from the $48.9 billion recorded last year. Gartner says mobile payments are not growing as fast as originally projected due to slower than expected uptake in developing countries. In addition, the “complexity of the [NFC]” service model has impeded its ability to takeoff in developed countries. “The biggest hurdle is the need to change user behavior by convincing consumers to pay with mobile phones instead of cash and cards,” Gartner research director Sandy Shen said, noting that mass market adoption of near-field communications (NFC) is at least four years away. Mobile payments will be driven by prepaid top-ups and money transfers, the research firm said. “Thanks to the success of mobile application stores, such as Apple’s App Store, and the efforts in driving mobile sales by major retailers, such as Amazon and eBay, merchandise purchases far outweigh other use cases in developed markets, which include North America and Western Europe,” Shen said. “We predict that in 2011, merchandise purchases will account for 90 percent and 77 percent of all transactions in North America and Western Europe, respectively.” Read on for the full press release. More →
LG has struggled to grab consumer interest the way Samsung has with its Galaxy S and Galaxy S II smartphones, and it doesn’t look like the manufacturer has a worthy competitor in the pipeline just yet. PocketNow purportedly leaked LG’s entire 2011 portfolio and while there are several attractive devices that run Android and Windows Phone, there is nothing that really blows us away. The lineup includes the following devices:
- LG Prada K2 – An Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) smartphone with a 4.3-inch NOVA display, 16GB of storage, and support for 21Mbps+ networks.
- LG Univa – An Android 2.3 device that is equipped with an 800MHz processor and a 3.5-inch HVGA display.
- LG Fantasy – A Windows Phone Mango-powered device that could make its debut in the fourth quarter of this year. Renders of the phone suggest that it will offer a large display, but other hardware specs are currently not available.
- LG Victor – A mid-range Android Gingerbread device with a 3.8-inch OLED WVGA display, a 5-megapixel camera and a 1GHz processor.
- LG Gelato – A device that may land on Sprint with the model number LS685, a version of the Gelato will reportedly offers support for near-field communications (NFC). It’s equipped with a 3.2-inch HVGA display, a 3-megapixel camera and an 800MHz processor.
PocketNow also revealed two more devices, the LG K and the E2, but little is currently known about them. We’re assuming that LG also has some more high-end handsets up its sleeves that it’s currently keeping closer to the vest — after all, the LG Thrill 4G (Optimus 3D), offers a high-end dual-core processor. Why would the manufacturer take a step backwards and just release a half-dozen mid-range handsets?
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa announced a new partnership with ISIS on Tuesday. ISIS is a mobile initiative that was formed in April of last year by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in an effort to help foster the growth of using near-field communications for mobile payments. It’s currently being tested in Salt Lake City and Austin. Tuesday’s announcement means that, as the mobile market moves closer and closer to a time when we can actually use our phones to make tap-and-go payments, consumers will have more payment options. MasterCard also teamed up with Google and Sprint on Google Wallet, which will launch in the future for Android-powered smartphones. We’re not sure why Sprint has held out on joining ISIS, but we hope it jumps on board soon to save consumers from a fragmented mobile payment landscape. Read on for the full press release. More →
If you’ve been waiting for HP’s highly anticipated TouchPad tablet, the company just sweetened the deal a bit more for you. HP recently announced that anyone who purchases the 32GB TouchPad before July 31st will get a $50 mail-in rebate off of the purchase price. The catch? You’ll have to prove that you already own a Palm Pre, Pre Plus, Pixi, or Pixi Plus smartphone. The TouchPad offers a 9.7-inch display, NFC capabilities for unique interactions with HP webOS phones, and a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It’s available in two capacities, 16GB ($499.99) and 32GB ($599.99). AT&T will offer a 3G version of the device later this summer, but pricing and an exact launch date have not been detailed. More →
HP is working on phones and tablets with built-in near-field communication (NFC) technology for mobile payments, Bloomberg reported on Monday. Much like Google Wallet, which will soon launch for the Nexus S and eventually other Android devices, HP hopes its customers will be able to use the company’s products to make mobile purchases in retail outlets. Similarly, HP has a plan to create an entire ecosystem where users will be able to to receive coupons or other benefits, such as loyalty points, from NFC-enabled advertisements. While sources told Bloomberg the products could launch by year-end, HP hasn’t been known to deliver new mobile devices to the market very quickly in the past. It’s also still unclear who the company’s mobile payment partners will be. More →
HTC isn’t just planning one or two successors to its first Android tablet — the HTC Flyer — instead the company plans to deploy an entire range of Android tablets, said HTC’s European president, Florian Seiche, during the Reuters Global Technology Summit. One such tablet could be the HTC Puccini, possibly destined for AT&T with a 10-inch screen and LTE in tow. “I really believe that the tablet market is really going to be a big market in the future and this is just a start,” Seiche said, noting that his firm feels good about the reception towards its HTC Flyer already. “In five years’ time, schools will have tablets probably instead of physical notebooks. I think that’s going to be such a massive wave of additional penetration in society… I think we can’t even guess the potential,” Seiche added. Mr. Seiche touched on the smartphone market and noted that HTC has plans to launch a new smartphone with near-field communications (NFC) built-in sometime this year. He also discussed Nokia’s budding partnership with Microsoft and Windows Phone: “It will not change our commitment to Microsoft,” Seiche explained. “With a new player entering, it should actually help to elevate the relevance of that platform … we actually feel that we should be able to benefit.” More →
We’re here in Orlando at RIM’s BlackBerry World developer event and have scored some more hands-on time with the recently announced BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930… and we’re pretty impressed with what we see so far. The Bold 9900 felt light in the hand, but definitely had a premium feel thanks to its thin form factor and metal accents around the body — it’s also the thinnest BlackBerry to date. The new BlackBerry 7 operating system was very snappy and we didn’t experience any lag when bouncing around the new OS, likely thanks to the 1.2GHz processor under its hood. The keyboard reminds us a lot of the original BlackBerry Bold 9000, and the form factor is more akin to that phone than the handset it is replacing, the 9700. The industrial design of the phone is solid, but we do wish RIM would venture away from a form factor that’s feeling pretty stale. We’ll need to spend more time with BlackBerry 7, but superficially it looks nearly identical to BlackBerry 6 — which could be a positive or negative depending on your viewpoint. We’re excited to see what RIM does with the built-in NFC technology, and the faster processor should definitely open the flood gates to more robust applications in the future. We’ve assembled a gallery of photos for your scrutiny. Have a look and let us know what you think of RIM’s latest creation.