Our look at some of the big stories today in mobile: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) picks up the pace with NFC; T-Mobile’s Sidekick; jailbreak for the iPad; Moko and Neomobile make acquisitions.
— Google: Hot on the heels of yesterday’s story — that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is apparently delaying putting NFC chips in its mobile products — comes a report that Google is doing quite the opposite. Within the next four months, Google is planning to start testing a mobile payment scheme in stores in New York and San Francisco, according to unnamed sources speaking to Bloomberg.
Google’s partner in the scheme? None other than VeriFone, which has been spatting with competing mobile payments provider, Square: the former is accusing Jack Dorsey’s startup of not being a secure-enough payment method.
The article says that Google is planning to equip “thousands” of merchants with special VeriFone machines to be able to read NFC chips and process payments. Important to note, though, that this is a trial — and we’ve seen several of these using NFC already; and the amount of handset models equipped to run such services are still in the single digits. No mention of operator involvement, or any other partners such as payment providers, in the story, either.
— Sidekick: It’s back! T-Mobile today officially unveiled the new edition of the messaging device. Designed by Samsung and running Google’s Android OS, the device still features a (relatively) large input keyboard, plus the now-obligatory highly functional touchscreen users expect on their smartphones. The launch of the new Sidekick comes as existing Sidekick users have been told that their Danger messaging and email services will no longer be supported by Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), and that T-Mobile would offer those users some migration options. That could be one good way of drumming up some new users for the device.
— iPad 2: It only took a couple of days, it seems, for the jailbreak to come out for the latest Apple product. This one comes courtesy of a hacker that goes by the name Comex on Twitter, and will let users download applications to the iPad 2 that are not authorised by Apple, and let them download legit things like paid apps free of charge. Remond Pie posts a video of the jailbreak in action, although the code has yet to be released.
— Mobile M&A: Two acquisition plays in the mobile content space:
The Australian mobile social network Moko.mobi has bought the U.S.-based mobile community business of Cellfish Media LLC for $5.5 million. Cellfish Media LLC will hold 17 percent of issued shares of Moko.mobi upon completion of the transaction. The two have been working together since last year, and now Moko looks like it will be using the buy to extend further into the U.S. and list on Nasdaq, according to the release.
Meanwhile, the Italian mobile content and marketing company Neomobile has bought the mobile payments company Onebip for an undisclosed sum to strengthen its mobile commerce operations. Neomobile says that the acquisition makes it one of the top-three mobile commerce players in Europe. Onebip biggest business to date has been providing payment solutions to gaming companies like Gameforge and Playfish, while Neomobile says that its mobile commerce business grew 500 percent last year with net revenues of €61 million for its retail operations.