Sony Ericsson to Support NFC in Future Android Phones

Jun 16 2011

Sony Ericsson is the latest smartphone maker to commit to NFC, with NXP Semiconductors announcing today that the Japanese-Swedish phone vendor has chosen NXP’s NFC chips for its Android-based Xperia phones.

Sony Ericsson, whose handsets are known for their gaming and other multimedia applications, said it would incorporate NXP’s PN65 NFC chip in its Android-based smartphones, “creating a portfolio of smartphones that enable mobile transactions,” according to NXP.  

“Building on Sony Ericsson’s leadership in Android and mobile gaming, the integration of Near Field Communication into our Android-based Xperia portfolio is another step in delivering the most entertaining smartphones,” Sony Ericsson’s chief technology officer Jan Uddenfeldt said in a statement. “NFC offers our consumers the ability to broaden their communication experience beyond the phone, and we are poised to drive the development of new, exciting and creative entertainment experiences.”

The phones would have an embedded secure element to store payment and other applications requiring security. NXP has supplied the same chip to Google for its Nexus S, which supports the Google Wallet. While the chip is technically able to support applications on SIM cards, Google has not yet enabled that feature in its Nexus S or in its Android operating system.

Sony Ericsson, which has seen its fortunes decline the recent years, hopes its new portfolio of Android phones will help it capture more market share, especially in the United States. This year it has announced several phones that will support the latest version of Android, called Gingerbread.

Gingerbread also supports NFC, but it’s not clear whether Sony Ericsson will include NFC chips in all of its new Android models.

Update: “Sony Ericsson will include NFC in future Android-based smartphones, but as a general company policy we do not comment on specific future products, and we only announce new products when we are ready to do so,” said a Sony Ericsson spokesman. End update.

According to U.S.-based research firm Gartner, Sony Ericsson, which is a joint venture between Japan’s Sony Corp. and Sweden’s Ericsson, ranked ninth in mobile phone shipments during the first quarter of 2011, shipping 7.9 million units globally.

That represented only a 1.9% market share, compared with the handset maker’s 2.7% global market share during the same quarter in 2010. Sony Ericsson later placed the Q1 shipment figure at 8.1 million units. The figures take in all handsets, and Sony Ericsson’s share of the smartphone market is higher, though still outside of the top five.

NXP has projected that phone makers would ship a total 70 million NFC handsets this year, a figure expected to include one or more Sony Ericsson models.

So far, the only two smartphones on the market supporting NFC are Nokia’s C7 and the Nexus S, though Samsung Electronics and Research in Motion have announced plans for models to be shipped later in the year. HTC, LG Electronics, ZTE and Huawei are also planning NFC-enabled smartphones.

“Based on continued strong customer endorsements, we have the opportunity to increase the sales of our NFC products two to four times as a percentage of total NXP revenue in the second half of 2011 from the approximately 1% it represents today,” said NXP CEO Rick Clemmer in a statement today.

 

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