In a bid to rival Google and Android, Hewlett-Packard may be readying some webOS devices with built-in near field communications (NFC) technologies that would enable its smartphones and tablets to be used as digital wallets. HP’s venture into the NFC world would utilize the technology not only as a point of payment mechanism, but would allow customers to receive coupons, loyalty points, and discounts by tapping their webOS-empowered smartphones and tablets to nearby posters, advertisements, and banners.
The new NFC-enabled webOS devices could be ready by the end of the year.
With RIM, Nokia, Microsoft, Google, and Apple already exploring, launching, or rumored to be introducing hardware and services with NFC capabilities, HP would need to introduce the capability to remain competitive. Google is preparing to offer users in select cities the ability to pay for goods with a linked credit or debit card using its Nexus S 4G smartphone.
According to a Businessweek source, HP would allow developers to tap into the technology to develop apps and programs.
Though the U.S. has been slow in adopting NFC for mobile payment, the market is expected to explode within the next couple years.
NFC-enabled mobile payment could–and is designed to–replace a user’s wallet as a user can leverage their smartphone to pay for physical goods and merchandise in retail stores. With a linked credit card, a user can merely wave or tap their NFC-equipped phone to an NFC reader to pay for merchandise, rather than swipe a credit card.
The technology is also being investigated in other ways as a way to share information without having to initiate Bluetooth or other complicated sharing protocols. Users, for example, can swap business cards by tapping two NFC devices together. Apple is rumored to be working on a way to save a Mac’s settings on an NFC-powered iPhone so that a user can just use their iPhones and tap it to any Mac computer to bring up their settings as if they were using a home computer.
Currently, HP is using its Touchstone technology to enable sharing in a limited function between its TouchPad tablet and its webOS Pre smartphone. For example, a user can begin browsing the web on their HP TouchPad tablet, and then tap their Pre smartphone to the tablet to instantly share the webpage from the tablet to phone to resume browsing while they are mobile. That functionality, perhaps, can also be replaced by utilizing NFC technology.