Nokia bets on NFC tech for future phones

In a desperate attempt to rekindle interest in its products and to avoid becoming just another Windows Phone box-shifter, Nokia has announced that it will be including NFC technology in all its future products.

NFC - Near Field Communications - chips allow short-range two-way communication between mobile devices, and are being heralded as the next big thing in mobile payments. Google has already placed the chips in its Nexus One smartphone, and trials are under way to create a payment system whereby you can make small transactions simply by waving your smartphone at a payment terminal.

The technology goes beyond mobile payments, however: two devices equipped with NFC hardware can exchange information, allowing them to - as in one example - share the authentication information required to set up an ad-hoc Bluetooth connection for the transferring of a file.

At the launch of its latest budget handset devices in Thailand, Nokia vice president Ilari Nurmi indicated that NFC was a key technology for the company's future.

"From now on, all of our products will have an NFC chip inside," Nurmi told the Bangkok Post. "All other NFC-equipped devices can also link to our products."

That's a bold statement, but would give Nokia something it desperately needs: a way to stand out from the Windows Phone crowd and regain the market share it once enjoyed with its - at the time - cutting-edge homebrew Symbian and Maemo devices. Without a move like this, Nokia is likely to find itself struggling in an increasingly crowded market.