Major names in the mobile industry continue to line up behind mobile-payments strategies, but Google (NSDQ: GOOG) may be perturbed to see a number of friends joining up with a rival. Isis, the mobile-payments venture run by three wireless carriers, added a number of Android handset makers to its list of backers Tuesday who pledged to release phones based on NFC technology.
The list reads like a who’s-who of Android: Samsung, HTC, LG (SEO: 066570), and Motorola (NYSE: MMI) (soon perhaps destined to be part of Google) all pledged support for Isis in a press release alongside Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC). AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon, and T-Mobile are the key companies behind Isis, which wants to set up a mobile payment infrastructure that would let their customers pay for goods and services using their NFC (near-field communications)-enabled phones. Google is also hoping to build out such a network with the backing of Sprint.
There are some in the mobile-payments industry who are skeptical about Isis, given that the group is led by fierce competitors generally not accustomed to seeing eye-to-eye on many issues. But it has now lined up prominent backers on all sides of the issue, including hardware and payments companies like Visa and Mastercard. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), of course, is noticeably absent from anyone’s list of public backers of NFC technology.
Given how much time it will take to build a functioning mobile payments system on a wide scale, it’s hard to handicap the chances of one group’s approach as compared to another’s. But Google Wallet will now have to compete for attention with Isis even among Android partners. Maybe this will be the first test of Google’s pledge to operate Motorola as a completely separate entity should that merger come to pass.