Microsoft planning NFC-enabled WP7 phones

Microsoft is the latest name tipped to be supporting NFC payments, with an NFC-enabled Windows Phone 7 (WP7) device reportedly scheduled to arrive before year-end. According to sources at Bloomberg, the strategy is part of a plan by Microsoft to shore up support for WP7 in the face of growing competition from Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. The latest Android version (2.3) already supports NFC and the first NFC-based Android phone (the Nexus S) was launched last year; Apple, meanwhile, is widely expected to build NFC capabilities into the next version of the iPhone, due this summer. The use of NFC contactless technology will allow device users to pay for physical goods by simply waving the device at a compatible merchant reader. NFC is also being backed as the mobile payments technology of choice by most operators.

The Bloomberg report gave no indication of which WP7 vendor is planning to build the first NFC phone based on the platform. While Nokia is now Microsoft’s most high-profile OEM vendor – and has also pledged its support for NFC – its first WP7 phones are not expected to come to market until 2012. The report notes that Microsoft holds 14 patents referencing NFC, the most recent of them awarded just last week. According to recent figures from iSuppli, 13 percent of phones shipped in 2014 will integrate NFC, up from just 4.1 percent this year.

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