updated 07:15 pm EDT, Tue March 29, 2011
Windows Phone 7 may get NFC as soon as 2011
Hints that Microsoft might add NFC to Windows Phone 7 gained corroboration Tuesday with a pair of tips from insiders. The feature would be used for the expected role of mobile payments and would have the feature baked into the OS itself. NFC may come early, however; it could be in shipping devices before the end of 2011, Bloomberg was told.
Earlier tips had NFC likely woven into the Qualcomm chips Microsoft would use as the reference design for the next wave of WP7 devices. Little has been said of how the software would work, but Microsoft already has commerce systems in place that handle Xbox Live, Windows Phone Marketplace, and Zune Marketplace that handle concepts such as maintaining credit.
The move would be relatively aggressive for the Windows Phone team, which only just began adding copy-and-paste text on Tuesday and will still be catching up in features late this year when multitasking and a newer browser arrive in an update. It may be necessary as the company will have to face at least four rivals. Apple is rumored to be adding NFC to the iPhone 5, while Google has already added it with Android 2.3 and is just waiting for device makers to sign on; it should already be trialing with Citigroup in mid-year. RIM has already pledged NFC-equipped BlackBerry phones this year, and Nokia said in 2010 it wanted smartphones announced in 2011 to carry NFC.
The addition of NFC may be relevant most of all to Nokia, since its first WP7 devices are due no later than early 2012 and would need NFC to meet the Finnish firm's original expectations for the technology.