Is Nokia building a Google Wallet competitor?

Nokia has alluded to a Near Field Communication (NFC) driven wallet app for a long time, but is it finally almost here? According to NFC Rumors, Nokia is in talks with JP Morgan to bring an NFC payment app to Windows Phones and possibly devices powered by Symbian, their home brew OS.

Nokia is still the reigning leader in the number of handsets they produce each year, and this could provide much-needed competition for Google’s runaway train Android, which has been giving the Windows Phone an unceremonious ass-kicking in recent months.

Google Wallet, which has been released for public testing on the Sprint network and only with the Nexus S, has been met with positive reviews but is also being met with resistance, as payment with Wallet is contingent upon the presence of a MasterCard PayPass terminal. Nokia and Microsoft entering the fray may bring some clout to the idea of ubiquitous mobile payments and hasten the transition from traditional payment options.

So, if the rumor holds true, what does that mean for us? For starters, it gives credence to Google’s idea of carrying your wallet in your phone by showing the public that companies will be competing for the space. This should allow the mobile payment niche to start maturing and gain consumer confidence. It also shows that Nokia and Microsoft are poised to make some big moves with Windows Phone 7 on Nokia hardware.

A lot is unclear about this deal, like whether Nokia will be producing the software or simply facilitating it with hardware. Supposedly, we’ll be finding out soon, as the deal is with JP Morgan is nearly complete.

Google Wallet: Changing the Way You Pay for Things… If You Can Keep Your Phone Charged

I’m pretty jazzed about Google Wallet. For those that have never heard of it, Google Wallet is an app being rolled out by the Big G, beginning with the Sprint Network, that intends to change the way we pay for things by storing your credit cards on your smart phone. It makes use of a nifty near-field communication (NFC) chip that can communicate securely (and wirelessly) with MasterCard PayPass terminals by simply waving or tapping your smart phone on it. Cool.Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive as early adopters are impressed by how quickly and seamlessly you can pay for goods and services. MasterCard states that there are currently “hundreds of thousands” of PayPass terminals across the United States that support Google Wallet with more to come in 2012.

While NFC is a new technology to US phones, the idea is far from original as Korean and Japanese commuters have been able to pay for public transit fares by waving their phones for years. Still, Google plans to make Wallet a unique and widely used application that will allow you to abandon your leather pocket destroyer forever. Google doesn’t want to stop at credit cards, wanting to eventually allow you to store your passport, driver’s license, and plane tickets in Wallet.

As cool as the Wallet concept is, I think the obvious limitation is the battery life of current smart phones. I can’t seem to keep my Nexus S charged for more than 10 hours at a time, so there is no way I would depend on Google Wallet as my primary means of paying for things. I think the problem is compounded by traveling, where a dead phone could leave you stranded with no way of paying for things or even proving your identity.

Google Wallet is an elegant and interesting solution to storing sensitive materials in easy-to-lose wallets. If you lose your smart phone, your stuff should remain safe so long as you have it password protected. Still, it’s not a practical idea for everyday use and certainly not for traveling. I hope Google continues to develop this idea, but until the hardware can accommodate the app, I’ll probably limit my use to novelty purposes (i.e. impressing girls) only.

Smartphones Are The Future. Of Everything.

I sincerely hope you’re a fan of smartphones and own at least one. Why? Because smartphones are the future. Of everything.

Just a few years ago we all had normal, run-of-the-mill cellphones (which are now lovingly referred to as feature phones). We would primarily use them to make and receive calls, and send and receive SMS text messages. Some people ventured on to the Web, while others loaded music on to their handsets, but the experience of doing either of these tasks was generally a negative one.

Fast-forward to the present and smartphones are all the rage. Almost everyone has them, and those who don’t will likely soon be upgrading to them for fear of becoming an outcast spurned by society for not complying. And experiencing smartphone envy until they do. The problem is handsets and the operating systems that power them are improving so quickly that what you buy today will be outdated and underpowered this time next year.

Even in their current form smartphones are offering so much. I recently realized that mine has essentially made my digital camera, my mp3 player, and my Nintendo DS obsolete, because I use it in place of all three (for taking photos, listening to music on the go, and playing games on the go, respectively). If I drove and had a sat-nav (or GPS) device it would have done the same for that. It also means I’m less tied to my laptop throughout the day, and I can watch television shows and movies, be informed of breaking news, and have instant access to a world of information at my fingertips at all times. In fact, with the size of smartphone screens increasing and the method of text input improving it could be argued that smartphones are becoming tablets; mini-computers which reside in your pocket at all times.

Google Wallet

Still not convinced? Then consider, if you will, and I really think you should, Google Wallet, which was launched recently in New York and San Francisco. If you haven’t heard of Google Wallet then you may want to prepare yourself, because it signals a new reality, one in which we’ll all be paying for goods and services electronically using nothing more than our smartphones.

In effect Google Wallet will be an app on your smartphone which replaces the need for you to carry cash, checks, or cards of all variety (debit, credit, and store). You’ll link your card to Google Wallet and then use your smartphone as means of payment using NFC (Near Field Communication). Already being trialled in two large U.S. cities, Google Wallet could, if the search giant has its way, be everywhere. On all phones, on all networks, in the pockets of everyone, everywhere.

Smartphones are replacing the need for a host of other gadgets and becoming a necessity rather than a luxury with each passing month.

With this future rapidly becoming the present, I wonder if the term ‘smartphone’ is highfalutin enough. We clearly need to be thinking more in terms of ‘geniusphone’ or ‘Einsteinphone’. Or perhaps we should drop the phone part altogether. After all, the actual act of phoning other human beings appears to be rapidly becoming the least important part of the equation. In which case perhaps I need to adapt the title of this article to ‘Smartphones Are The Future. Of Everything Other Than Making Phonecalls’.

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