BARCELONA: RIM chief executive Jim Balsillie has confirmed that the company will follow in the footsteps of Google and ship BlackBerry devices enabled with near-field communication (NFC) technology.
Balsillie said during his keynote at Mobile World Congress that NFC will become part of RIM's strategy as it looks to allow users to access services conveniently using BlackBerry smartphones.
"Many if not most BlackBerry devices will have NFC in them, [including] the full aspect of billing, identity [features] and contactless payments," he said.
"The key is to allow increased consumption of carrier services and broaden the availability of [services]."
Balsillie maintained that the incorporation of carrier billing into application stores is essential to drive services on the mobile platform.
The in-app payment system offered within BlackBerry App World helps mobile operators to drive revenue, and it is convenient for end users, he explained.
"The most important thing that carriers sell is network services. In-app payments are extremely convenient and can be made without interrupting the application experience," he said.
Balsillie did not provide a date for when the first NFC-enabled BlackBerry will ship, but it will not be a surprise if a handset appears sometime this year if the infrastructure is in place.
Nick McQuire, EMEA research director for enterprise mobility at IDC, argued that 2011 is a big year for RIM.
"It will need to ramp up launches in a few new areas including its PlayBook with the new QNX OS, a range of devices on BlackBerry 6 and of course supporting emerging technologies such as NFC," he added.
"It has some work to do but clearly strategically supporting NFC is a must for the company."
The Google Nexus S was the first to incorporate NFC technology, and the company has confirmed that it will add NFC support to Android 2.3.
Other manufacturers, including HTC and LG, are also tipped to release NFC devices this year.
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