TR: If services outside the device are important, what are the larger sectors to which Nokia Ventures is looking?
RM: There are many different directions. There’s cellular, of course, with wideband CDMA and 3G evolving faster, into what’s called “3.9G.” Then there is Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, and Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), which was just launched. It’s interesting how the convergence works across these technologies and how the devices and services evolve. Then there is an even more local approach, basically, touch-based phenomenon. We are working hard on the Near Field Commmunications standard (NFC). NFC is a new protocol being developed for giving an RFID reader capability in the handset. Basically, you come close to a tag and read whatever information it contains. Nokia was first on the market with that, with an announcement last Monday [February 13].
TR: Wasn’t DoCoMo, the Japanese mobile phone giant, working with Sony on a touch-based system with smart cards?
RM: That’s right. There are two standards for contactless communications: NFC and FeLiCa. In Japan, FeLiCa was the one they were counting on, and it’s not fully compatible with NFC. But Sony, Phillips, Nokia, and a few others are now counting on NFC and chipsets are coming on the market. It’s an area that enables a lot of work-force solutions – having a phone that’s an RFID reader and smart card can trigger basically any transaction. It can be “I’m doing a report,” “I’ve been here,” “I believe this,” or “I want to automatically get in contact with someone.”
Then of course there’s the contactless payment phenomenon. Special contactless cards can be used for different things, like bus and metro tickets. We have the first portable device that includes a smart card and NFC capabilities, which means this same device can host MasterCard, Visa, and bus and metro tickets. It works exactly the same as a credit card.
TR: Is that a prototype at this point?
RM: It’s much more than a prototype. We are running about 30 trials globally. The biggest one in the United States is at the Atlanta [major league] baseball stadium, where the payment and ticketing solution is used.