Feeds

Nokia slips secret chip into C7

Finnish engineers won't say what the NFC chip is for

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Nokia's C7 handset has an NFC chip in it, but Nokia is refusing to say why it's there or even what it is exactly.

The C7 is very much like Nokia's flagship, the N8, only with less multimedia and (arguably) a prettier case, but it now seems that the C7 is packing some Near Field Communications capability, which could make it capable of proximity payments or electronic ticketing. However, Nokia won't say anything beyond admitting that the chip exists - leaving the distinct smell of skunkworks in action.

We're not even clear what an "NFC chip" is. Many years ago Nokia launched a handset which claimed RFID (radio-frequency identification) compatibility, generating much excitement until it emerged that the company was referring to an encryption module on the phone rather than any additional wireless capability. So with that in mind we asked for clarification and waited a couple of days for Nokia to get back to us and explain that it wasn't prepared to say anything on the subject.

NFC isn't as simple as a chip: it needs an antenna, ideally wired into the casing as it is used to induce current when the battery is dead. It also needs to be big. NFC devices also need a secure storage area, which can be on an SD Card or even in the SIM, but the phone needs to support either or both possibilities. Nokia says that the NFC in the C7 needs a software upgrade, but refuses to be drawn on which components that includes, or why it has put them there.

Nokia did tell us that none of its other phones have secret NFC chips installed, and NFC Times suggests that this is because of the social nature of the C7 - the chip could allow Nokia users to tap handsets to exchange details, rather than any electronic commerce application.

But if that were the case, then surely the same chip would have been embedded in the C6 (roughly same phone, only smaller), and it would be insane not to include the m-commerce functionality that NFC enables. Once it is included in the antenna and supporting infrastructure, the incremental cost is insignificant, and we suspect the real reason is rather less coordinated.

We've written at length about how Nokia is a company of great engineers who've been battling against corporate philosophy to get technologies into the hands of users. This is why we can't help thinking that getting an "NFC chip" into the C7 was some sort of skunkworks project that slipped into the real world. At best with the intention of replacing the NFC-enabled 6216 in operator trials, and at worst just to stop Google crowing about having the world's first NFC-enabled smartphone some time next year.

Nokia tells us we should expect an announcement about what it plans to do with the capability, but we can't help wondering if the company would actually prefer us to forget the entire thing and concentrate on the pretty colours instead.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.