Near-field communication (NFC) seems like next big thing in mobile right now, with Google implementing it in Gingerbread, and rumors of Apple to integrate it already floating around. Now, Microsoft joins a growing list of software providers aiming to benefit from rising demand for ways to purchase products and services on the go.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft is planning on including mobile payments in "Next Windows Phone." Bloomberg says that "users would be able to pay for items in stores by bumping a WP device against a compatible cash register."
Apparently, Microsoft is pinned to get support NFC from Nokia oyj as part of their WP partnership deal. Nokia has already announced that NFC will be a "standard feature" this year in its line up of Symbian based smartphones. Bloomberg also points out that Microsoft actually holds 14 patents already for NFC, with the latest of these being given to the software giant on March 22.
It's unclear if the "next version" of Windows Phone implies the new generation of handsets that may be released with "Mango" or a future update, potentially "Windows Phone 8." Either way, NFC could be another feature in Microsoft's arsenal against Google's Android. It's worth noting that Google's current "flagship" phone -- the Nexus S -- has built in NFC support, though uptake for the protocol has been slow.
The number of phones with NFC will double in 2012, from 35 million shipped in 2011, consultant ABI Research estimated. In 2014, 340 million global wireless users will use mobile payments, according to research firm Gartner.