NFC support on upcoming BlackBerry Smartphones gets official

By Kevin Michaluk on 17 Feb 2011 09:25 am EST

One of the biggest announcements from Research In Motion at Mobile Congress World 2011 wasn't made via a press release, but rather by RIM's Co-CEO Jim Balsillie when he was on stage during a keynote yesterday. The announcement? He confirmed Near Field Communication (NFC) support on future BlackBerry Smartphones. Of course CrackBerry readers already knew this was coming via the leaked 2011 BlackBerry Smartphone Roadmap, but apparently the greater world did not as RIM's stock actually rallied up a few dollars yesterday on the news. We're still trying to hunt down the video with Jim's speech, but you can check out the video above of Mike Kirkup from BlackBerry Developer Day where he again confirms the NFC news (as well magnetometer support in BlackBerry 6.1).

If you're not familiar with NFC, there are three main ways to put it to use in mobile:

  • Card emulation - the NFC equipped BlackBerry behaves like an existing contactless card
  • Reader mode - the NFC equipped BlackBerry is active and reads a passive RFID tag, for example for interactive advertising
  • P2P mode - NFC equipped devices are communicating together and exchanging information (between two phones, or phones and accesssories equipped with it, etc).

So what kind of specific uses can we expect to see in the future? Think mobile ticketing in transportation, swiping into your office building with your BlackBerry, mobile payment (your BlackBerry is now your credit card.... scary thought?!) and one of the big things it could also help in is the automatic pairing of two Bluetooth devices.

Let me go out on a limb here... I'm going to PREDICT (I'm pretty much 100% confident we'll see this happen) that when the next generation of BlackBerry Smartphones hit the market that are NFC equipped, you'll be able to create the BlackBerry Bridge between your BlackBerry Smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet simply by bringing the phone next to the tablet - you won't have to manually setup any of the Bluetooth pairing... it'll just happen via the magic of NFC. 

Reader comments

NFC support on upcoming BlackBerry Smartphones gets official


Interesting indeed. RIM is definitely building infrastructure in a wide variety of ways. I think they are setting themselves up for an explosion in 2012 of new generation devices that will display speed, and capabilities not seen before nor will be able to be effectively competed with for a long time; Especially with the security and battery life that has long been the hallmark of Blackberry,

I'm betting it does... RIM hasn't mentioned a few things yet that the PlayBook has/can do. Jim Balsillie hinted to it a long time ago, saying RIM would be fools to not embrace NFC in the short and longer term (and said RIM isn't fools). I bet it's built in on the hardware side.. they just haven't done anything on the software side yet to utilize it. So they may not say it has NFC at launch.. but I'd bet $100 it's in there..

Makes sense!

Basically like the HP Touchpad touch-to-share feature.

As for RIM not mentioning a few things it can do, I'd like to know what happens when someone calls your phone that is bridged the Playbook? Does something show up on the Playbook as a pop-up? Can you pair a headset to the bridged playbook and take calls through it?

Yep. Good question. I want to know that one too. Don't think we've seen/heard it yet.  Like I mentioned in our last podcast, I think with the PlayBook's platform being so in it's infancy, a lot of the answers to these types of questions are "it may not be there at launch, but it's on the roadmap"

well i guess all this fancy pairing stuff is cool and crazy...yet somewhat risky. all this stuff ya hear about pay pass fobs being skimmed makes this technology just a tad dicey, doesn't it? we all love and trust RIMs security platform and know they wouldn't do anything half-a$$ed...but i'm still nervous. however, the TSx's reaction to this news (up $3.05?) makes me warm and fuzzy inside. if this is the future, i shall embrace!

I *think* security won't be much of an issue... if you go to pay with your BlackBerry, you should still get prompted for pin code, etc. to confirm payment.  I *think* anyways.  Maybe in some cases (swiping BB as an access card to a building) all you would need is the BB.  I honestly don't know enough about it yet to answer well...  want to learn a lot more and hope to see a lot more of this stuff soon.

I actually watched a documentary on NFC Fraud, and this feature in the new devices doesnt sound like a good idea to me, think this could be downfall of BB Security as we know it!

check this quick video out, i couldnt find the name of the actual documentary this i saw but this pretty much sums it up

sorry if im not supposed to post links here, just thought this is very important

CDMA users won't be able to talk on the phone and surf the net on their playbook at the same time when on bridge. You have to stop surfing and look at your dataless tablet while you talk.

so long as it's something I can turn off or deactivate when I don't need or want to use it (much like Bluetooth, which had similar security concerns) I'm not worried about theft or security. I am kind of looking fwd to being able to use my cellphone as my debit card. Swiping my card gets old!