Among the blizzard of NFC-armed phone announcements at this week’s Mobile World Congress was RIM’s decision to include NFC in its BlackBerry line of smartphones. While hardly unique among handset makers, RIM is a major (if somewhat weakened) handset manufacturer and its decision to NFC-enable its flagship product line is significant – more as a predictor of NFC’s imminent arrival than it is a competitive advantage for RIM.
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Balsillie said it is developing mobile payment technology, known as near-field communication, or NFC, that would allow BlackBerry users to swipe their phones to pay for goods.
“Many if not most of BlackBerry devices throughout the year will have NFC in them,” he said.
The move dovetails with RIM’s earlier announcement to allow T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telefonica customers to charge BlackBerry App World purchases to their monthly phone bill. But it isn’t the only company rushing to grab a share of what could be a $1.13 trillion mobile-payment market by 2014. Long-time rivals Google and Apple have been developing NFC services for launch later this year as well.