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NXP details the NFC explosion caused by Android 2.3

by Scott Bicheno on 18 February 2011, 12:14

Tags: NXP

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Playing the field

While mobile CPUs and tablets hogged many of the headlines at MWC 2011, a significant sub-plot has been the use of the various other bits of technology we can now cram into a smartphone, or even integrated into the SoC.

With the launch of Android 2.3 - Gingerbread - NFC (near field communication) was launched into the mainstream consciousness. As you can imagine, no company was more profoundly affected by this than NFC chip specialist NXP.

Having spoken to NXP's Steve Owen at MWC 2010 about contactless payment, we caught up with him once more to find out more about the impact of the Gingerbread launch. "This launch has led to a proliferation of NFC awareness," said Owen. "It has legitimised NFC in the phone and it will be in Honeycomb. For us the discussion with customers has gone from ‘can we do it' to ‘how fast can NXP support us'."

In the build-up to the launch of Gingerbread, Google approached NXP and said that in order to participate in the new OS, it needed to make its software stack open source. This was no small decision for NXP has it was effectively being asked to give away a ton of software it has spent years developing, but it concluded the benefits more than justify the sacrifice.

"Google has a perception of a great user experience and they're dragging everyone else along with them," said Owen.

And while contactless payment remains the use-case of NFC with arguable the greatest potential, a lot of other applications are coming to the fore, which are easier to implement in the short/mid term. Owen had demo device that looked like a huge mouse mat, but which had a bunch of NFC chips embedded into it. Placing a Nexus S on top of one of the circles enabled an interaction between the phone and the chip.

Elsewhere on the NXP stand there were a bunch of other applications, such as a car that is unlocked by NFC, and then establishes an NFC-enabled instant Bluetooth pairing to allow the two-way exchange of data between the car and phone while driving. There's also a lot of LBS (location-based services) potential, for example tapping a Foursquare contact point to check in and qualify for special offers or free stuff.

We're clearly still just at the beginning of exploring what we can do with a smartphone and, increasingly, it looks like NFC will be in the middle of it. The only concern this raises is what the hell you do if you lose your phone...

 

 

 

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HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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Interesting. What does NXP get for releasing all it's IP ?
What is the Google solution on contactless payment ? Who owns the Chip ? The handset manufacturer or Google/NXP ?
Last time I looked into NFC technologies there was no set standard on the actual technology.
Does this mean that all google handsets will have the same NFC technology and that google have now standardised it? hmmm……
Phage
Interesting. What does NXP get for releasing all it's IP ?
What is the Google solution on contactless payment ? Who owns the Chip ? The handset manufacturer or Google/NXP ?
Well, the article does say "As you can imagine, no company was more profoundly affected by this than NFC chip specialist NXP.“ along with ”Google approached NXP and said that in order to participate in the new OS it needed to make its software stack open source. “ and ”And while contactless payment remains the use-case of NFC with arguable the greatest potential, a lot of other applications are coming to the fore, which are easier to implement in the short/mid term"

So, I would assume that the answers to this are:
  • NXP gets the gig as the preferred(?) NFC ship supplier;
  • Google may not have a “solution” for contactless payment at the moment, but maybe it's something they fancy adding to Google Checkout (obvious);
  • NXP owns the chip, although it doesn't say that they've got the exclusive rights - so maybe there'll be other suppliers offered too;
  • I would assume that the handset manufacturers would source the NFC chips the same way they do with the other ones - like the gyro, compass, etc. So ownership would stay with NXP.
I can't help thinking that maybe Google are going to concentrate on other uses of NFC first, like being able to receive voucher codes that you can then use NFC to redeem. Or smart advertising boards on bus shelters etc (assuming some ned hasn't vandalised it) that you could just touch your phone to if you wanted more information. E.g. advertise a local curry emporium, and then be able to get a Google Maps-hosted set of directions to that tasty vindaloo fix just by touching phone to a NFC-enabled spot on the board.

I would have thought enhanced advertising like this would be quite attractive to the advertisers, which means lucrative for Google.

But I could be completely wrong… and what they're intending in the short-term is to “borrow” an idea that HP were showing of being able to sync phone and tablet just by touching. ;)
crossy
  • NXP gets the gig as the preferred(?) NFC ship supplier;
  • Google may not have a “solution” for contactless payment at the moment, but maybe it's something they fancy adding to Google Checkout (obvious);
  • NXP owns the chip, although it doesn't say that they've got the exclusive rights - so maybe there'll be other suppliers offered too;
  • I would assume that the handset manufacturers would source the NFC chips the same way they do with the other ones - like the gyro, compass, etc. So ownership would stay with NXP.
I can't help thinking that maybe Google are going to concentrate on other uses of NFC first, like being able to receive voucher codes that you can then use NFC to redeem. Or smart advertising boards on bus shelters etc (assuming some ned hasn't vandalised it) that you could just touch your phone to if you wanted more information. E.g. advertise a local curry emporium, and then be able to get a Google Maps-hosted set of directions to that tasty vindaloo fix just by touching phone to a NFC-enabled spot on the board.

I would have thought enhanced advertising like this would be quite attractive to the advertisers, which means lucrative for Google.

But I could be completely wrong… and what they're intending in the short-term is to “borrow” an idea that HP were showing of being able to sync phone and tablet just by touching. ;)

Yeah - agreed mostly. I just not sure I see the value in the deal for NXP. Google is not a handset manufacturer. If the IP is open source they could lose it to a hundred handsets. Once it's out there, there are no exclusive deals.
Agreed, Google-domination of shopping continues !
I also think you're right on the other uses of the tech first, but I seriously think the real money will be in replacing the card schemes.
Phage
Interesting. What does NXP get for releasing all it's IP ?
What is the Google solution on contactless payment ? Who owns the Chip ? The handset manufacturer or Google/NXP ?

Crossy has pretty much done my job for me.

NXP makes the actual chips, so anything that grows the NFC market grows the TAM for NXP. The standards will be open but we've already seen - most recently with Moto and Honeycomb - what an advantage it is to be working closely with Google.

There will still be competition, but NXP may have a head-start on its competitors.