RIM has already kitted out its newer BBs with NFC capabilities and is now looking to run trials in conjunction with Telefónica, with a view to rolling out the Telefónica Wallet swipe feature on a wider scale. Telefónica intends to push the electronic wallet service in “several markets” next year, following the trial.
The pilot scheme will kick off at RIM’s HQ in Spain, with 350 employees able to use their NFC-enabled CrackBerry to buy lunch at local shops, or gain entry into their office building as a security card.
Hardly revolutionary, but it does show that RIM still has business users in mind with the ability to use phones as a security pass.
Quite whether anyone would trust RIM with such a task is debatable following its network outage debacle. But we imagine that if you are to be locked out of you office due to another BlackBerry malfunction, there are worse places to be than sunny Spain.
However, uSwitch mobile expert Ernest Doku reckons it’s essential that RIM gets on board, if only to avoid falling further behind its competitors.
“NFC will mean little to the majority of consumers, but RIM and many other mobile phone manufacturers – including Google, Samsung and Nokia – are putting it in their phones, where it can lie dormant until the technology is needed,” Doku told TechEye.
“That the trio of NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones to be used in this trial are available in stores today is a strong indication that RIM’s foresight during their recent product refresh was not merely restricted to a new operating system.”
Doku also believes that targeting business users once again could help.
“With the potential to marry the security that many associate with BlackBerry by branching into financial transactions via NFC is a clever move, it also sees RIM leaning back towards serving the corporate sector after a spell of courting consumers,” Doku said.
Then again, others aren’t quite convinced about RIM’s future.