Stalled negotiations over how best to implement the promising NFC (near-field communications) wireless payment technology in Research in Motion’s BlackBerry phones confirm the age-old battle between the hardware maker and the wireless carrier is still alive and well.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and three prominent carriers-Rogers, AT&T (NYSE: T), and T-Mobile-are having a row over how NFC chips should fit onto devices. The chips, which would let phone users pay for goods and services simply by swiping their phone near a wireless reader, show a lot of promise toward reaching the long-held goal of the mobile wallet and have been talked up quite a bit by Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in recent months.
But as with many things mobile, the dispute boils down to control, according to the report. RIM wants the NFC chip built into the device itself, where it argues it can be more secure. The wireless carriers want it built into the phone’s removable SIM card, where users could swap it into another phone. The real difference is who would control the payments: RIM could set up its own BlackBerry payments store, while the carrier would prefer to make mobile payments part of your monthly wireless bill, with each taking a cut from merchants.
Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is likely thinking the same way as RIM, which could explain the conflicting reports in recent weeks over whether or not the next iPhone would come with an NFC chip. Google is believed to be working on its own NFC service that is supposedly being tested in a few markets.