Like Google’s Android, Microsoft is adding support for NFC hardware and access software to its mobile phone operating system, Windows Phone. The giant software company in Redmond is in a race to keep up, never mind surpass, the operating system features of its principle competitors Apple, Google, and RIM. Microsoft is in danger of losing the affections of non-game playing consumers entirely and Windows Phone is one of its best avenues to reassert itself in the consumer market. Microsoft’s recent alliance with Nokia is a start but Nokia’s North American footprint is tiny. Support for NFC is an obvious enhancement but it won’t leapfrog anyone.
Mobile-software providers are weaving NFC support into their operating systems. Google has made NFC part of Android for mobile devices and in December introduced the first Android phone with NFC capabilities. Apple is said to be working on adding the feature to its mobile operating system, people familiar with the company’s plans said in January.
Having NFC features may be crucial to Microsoft’s efforts to boost shrinking market share. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft is expected to hold about 5.5 percent of the mobile operating system market this year, compared with 39.5 percent for Android, 15.7 percent for Apple’s IOS, and 14.9 percent for Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry, according to IDC, a consulting firm in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Microsoft is likely to get support in its mobile payments effort from Nokia Oyj, the handset maker that recently said it will use Windows Phone software on its devices. Nokia said it will make NFC a standard feature of its 2011 smartphones based on the Symbian operating system.