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Orange to ship 0.5m touch-pay phones next year

Rub the lump in my pocket and get rich, baby

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Orange reckons that half the smartphones it sells in 2011 will have NFC built in, planning to ship half a million NFC-equipped handsets in the next 12 months.

Not in the UK of course, Everything Everywhere has its own NFC plans, but in France Orange still start selling an NFC-equipped dumb phone in January and promises to lobby hard to get manufacturers to put NFC into their smartphones, though even NFC World thinks that's a little optimistic.

Orange's sudden enthusiasm for the technology is born of a realisation that control of the secure element required by Near Field Communications is slipping through its fingers, so all the handsets it intends to ship will be required to support the Single Wire Protocol (SWP) connection to the SIM – so anyone who wants to put an NFC application on the phone will have to ask Orange nicely.

And pay too, which is rather the point – in Orange's world companies like Visa and Mastercard come begging to have their PayPass and PayWave applications installed into the Orange SIM.

Google's Nexus S, the only smartphone that comes with NFC today, supports SWP, so it will surely be part of the plan, but the Nexus S has a second secure element embedded within it – and that one is under control of either Google or Samsung (neither company will tell us who it is), so if the network operators don't lead the way then they'll certainly get left behind. ®

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