Set to debut in Europe next quarter, the next flavor of the Lumia 610 will be the first Windows Phone handset to let people pay for items via their cell phone.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Nokia and Microsoft are jointly jumping onto the NFC bandwagon with the next version of the Lumia 610.
Slated to debut in Europe sometime this summer, the new version of the 610 will be the first Windows Phone handset to let users pay for goods on the go via NFC. The phone has already been certified for use with both MasterCard's PayPass and Visa PayWave, according to Nokia.
European carrier Orange will be the first provider to offer the NFC-enabled 610, which will be able to read NFC tags at the point of sale and pair with other NFC accessories.
Moving beyond just mobile payments, the phone will be able to use NFC as an alternative to Bluetooth by communicating with other devices around the home. As one example, the 610 could tap into NFC to pipe music to Nokia's wireless Play 360 speakers.
"Nokia continues to lead the field in NFC with this latest implementation on the Windows Phone platform, in which we have the full support of Orange," Ilari Nurmi, head of product marketing for Nokia's Smart Devices business unit," said in a statemdent. "We're bringing NFC right across our portfolio, and together with our ever-growing range of NFC accessories we're making it easy for people to connect via a single tap. We're also enabling operators and other service providers to build NFC payment and ticketing solutions on top of our smartphones."
This is hardly Nokia's first foray into NFC. The Finnish handset maker has been equipping its Symbian phones with the mobile payments technology. But it is a first for Microsoft's mobile OS, with the 610 the first NFC-equipped Windows Phone handset, courtesy of Nokia.
Though years in the making, NFC has been slow to ramp up, especially in the United States. Businesses, banks, phone makers, and carriers have all been trying to work together to push the technology and convince consumers of its ease of use. Google already offers NFC in a few of its smartphones. But until more major devices (ahem, the iPhone) support the technology, its adoption will likely move ahead slowly.
Still, the move could pay off for Nokia and Microsoft, which need to distinguish the Lumia lineup from the competition if they expect to make any headway in the mobile marketplace.