I thought I’d go along because I thought it would be useful to catch up with the mobile transactions buzz and make sure the advice that we give to customers is absolutely up to date. The Forum could hardly have gone any better, because Nokia’s no.2 showed up to announce that all Nokia smartphones introduced starting in 2011 will have NFC as standard. Up in our little Digital Money treehouse, this is what is officially known as a big deal, so I wasn’t surprised to see phone calls from journalists coming in within minutes of it reaching the twitter sphere. This was good news.
Nokia veteran Anssi Vanjoki, who will head Nokia’s new Mobile Solutions division starting in July, told an audience at the 10th anniversary meeting of the mobile-banking group Mobey Forum in Finland today that Nokia remains committed to NFC.[From Nokia Announces Symbian Smartphones to Pack NFC in 2011 | NFC Times – Near Field Communication and all contactless technology.]
I had the opportunity to chat with some of the Nokia folks later in the day and at the evening dinner out on one of the beautiful islands around Helsinki [soundtrack] and the feeling seemed to be (and I think I agree with this) that it will be smartphone functions (such as exchanging business cards and so on) that will drive NFC adoption so it makes sense to start with the smartphone range. Having said that, one of the Nokia guys reminded me that “Nokia is all about the mass market”, presumably meaning that the intention is to extend from the smartphone range into all phones in time.
Of great relevance to our world is that Nokia would not comment on whether the NFC smartphones would be SWP only, saying only that the device configuration depends on customer requirements, or something like that, which I interpret as meaning that if the operators order SWP-only phones then fine but it’s entirely possible that some devices will go out with options for removable secure elements (SEs) such as microSD or an additional secure element within the handset. At the Forum, I expressed a fear that the SWP-only phones under operator control might stifle innovation because the operators would not leave open security domains on the SEs. There needs to be a sandbox where the people who will come up with the next generation of killer applications (ie, kids, generally speaking) can play around and experiment and if they have to register with operators and get GlobalPlatform domain keys to do anything with phones, then they won’t.
As an aside, having promised to extended their NFC line beyond the current zero phones (now that they have announced the end of 6212 production), Nokia have begun experimenting with the next generation of RF technology already.
They will show an RF front-end circuit that allows data exchange between a reader – typically a mobile phone – and a memory tag, at speeds of 112Mbps, far faster than RFID. The circuit has already been implemented in a prototype data exchange system called Nokia Explore and Share. The system uses a combination of pulse-based UWB, in the 7.9GHz UWB band, for fast data transfer over short distances, and narrowband UHF for synchronization and remote powering. The same circuit can manage physical layer communication at both ends of connection, so the same RF front-end can be used in the tag and reader to save cost. The circuit can power itself from the narrowband signal, or there is a battery mode for increased reading distance.[From Nokia looks for successor to RFID tags – Rethink Wireless]
That’s massively faster than NFC, which doesn’t quite make it to 1Mb/s, let alone 100Mb/s. I love all this technology!
By the way, you will thank your lucky stars that this blog tends to be generally textual and lacks much in the way of photographic record when I tell you that the day finished with a sauna in the traditional Finnish style. I am sworn to the bond of the Mobey Forum brotherhood and will never reveal who chose to wear swinsuits and who chose to go au naturelle, but will merely sign off by saying that out of respect for my readership I will refrain from cheap jokes about Nokia candybars.
These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]