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NFC leader Inside Secure to IPO this month

It's no Facebook, but it does actually design stuff

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Inside Secure has filed for an initial public offering, looking to raise almost €80m a day after it celebrated shipping 20 million chips, and signed up a major handset manufacturer.

The filing is with the NYSE Euronext Paris, and Le Figaro reports that it will involve raising up to €79.3m in order to pay for more research and development, and perhaps an acquisition or two, as the NFC market becomes an increasingly polarised duopoly – which hasn't always been to Inside Secure's advantage.

The other half of the duopoly is NXP, NXP provides the NFC chips and associated secure element for the Nexus S as well as for Nokia's NFC-enabled handsets. Inside Secure gets its secure elements from Infineon, and provides designs for RIM and Sonim, among others.

Both Inside Secure and NXP have NFC APIs they're trying to foster as industry standards, starting with Android implementations, and both claim their own standard is more standard than their rival's standard, but the industry has yet to settle.

Inside Secure's big customer has been RIM, which is probably responsible for the majority of those 20 million shipped chips, but one wouldn't want an IPO hooked up to the future performance of RIM, so Inside has announced another "major handset-maker" is on board, although it won't say which.

It is saying that the unnamed manufacturer will be using "one of the most widely used mobile operating systems under license", which must surely be Android as Windows Phone can't be described as "widely used" and iOS is hardly "under licence". Details of the phone won't be available until the handset launches, "mid-year", so anyone buying shares will have to take it on trust.

There are other paths to riches: Intel is a licensee so should anyone decide to make phones with Intel Inside then they'll likely feature Inside Secure too, but we'd prefer to put our money on RIM making an unexpected comeback.

The Inside Secure/NXP duopoly is also unlikely to last long either. NFC Times reckons STMicroelectronics, Samsung, Texas Instruments and Broadcom will all have NFC chips on the market by the end of 2012, though TI's offering is apparently not aimed at smartphones.

NFC isn't the only thing Inside Secure does – the bulk of its revenue still comes from general security products including pay TV and unforgeable tags – but it's pretty clear that NFC is the future. NFC is growing fast, and now is the time to expand and grab customers before the bigger boys arrive, so Inside Secure should do well in that regard, despite being not nearly as interesting as Facebook. ®

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