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Nokia C7 will go NFC next year

But we still don't know why...

Nokia's C7 handset can read NFC (Near Field Communication) tags, and operate as an NFC tag itself, with a downloaded update coming next year. This will be followed by software to drive the secure element.

The secure element will be needed to manage proximity payment systems, such as London's Oyster network, but Nokia still isn't saying where that secure element will be (on the SIM, though the Single Wire Protocol, or in the phone). What the company has said is that the C7 has circuits for emulating a payment token as well as for reading tags, and that a software update early next year will activate the functionality.

Nokia had already confirmed that the C7 has "an NFC chip" in it, but refused to be drawn on what that meant. Now Nokia's communications director has told Teknologik Generation that the C7 supports the full range of NFC functionality.

NFC, or (more accurately) the N-Mark standard, requires devices to be both a reader and a tag. The former is so that the device can read tags on billboards and packaging, the latter is so it can operate as a train ticket or proximity credit card, even when its battery is exhausted. Nokia's earlier statements left us guessing what functionality was supported in the C7. Now we know.

Not that any of this functionality will be available to normal users. If Nokia's plan was to make the C7 its first proper NFC-capable handset, then the C6 (which is the same, only smaller) would have NFC too. What's more likely is that the C7 is intended to replace the Nokia 6212 in the various NFC trials that continue to rumble on around the world.

The interview (which is in French) refers to six handsets supporting NFC that Nokia has developed. NFC World counts up Nokia's history and reckons that if one includes the pair of snap-on cases then there's no more coming any time soon, but if one excludes the cases then there could be a couple more NFC handsets in the pipeline.

This is all far from promising, when Apple is exploring the technology and Android developers are already playing with a pair of NFC APIs. At the moment Nokia leads the world in NFC, perhaps because no one else wants it, but even if that is the reason, it would be nice to see the company betting hard on the technology if it really believes that NFC will become important. ®

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