Still intrigued by Near Field Communications? Good. Because Orange reckons it's about to get a lot more interesting with a batch of NFC handsets on the way.
NFC is the next big thing in mobiles that stubbornly has refused to catch on with any major force thus far. The idea that you can use your mobile to pay for goods by tapping on a sensor has been around since 2008 when we played with a trial Nokia unit O2 were offering. But since then, it's started and stalled more than a 1980s Yugo.
Orange says the next 12 months will see a "large number" of handsets with the technology hit the market. At the moment, it only offers the Samsung Tocco Lite. The newly-released BlackBerry 9900 also has an NFC chip but is still listed as 'Coming Soon' by Orange whilst a variant of the Samsung Galaxy S2 will also launch with it in France. We're hopeful that model will head over to UK shores too.
Plus there's some serious NFC goodness in Nokia's Symbian Belle OS, which is doing a good job of making the once-loved platform actually look fairly appealing again (who knew?).
Jason Rees, Director of Mobile Payments & Ticketing at Everything Everywhere (the company formed by an Orange-Tmobile tie-up) told TechRadar and that it's not just a feature for high-end handsets and that all budgets can expect to see it:
"It will be offered in high end phones, as well as the mid and lower tier devices, and will be supported by all the operating systems you'd expect," he said.
"Next year will be very healthy in terms of NFC-capable phones; if you imagine this year we were looking at launching maybe two or three, by Q3 2012 we aim to have tens of devices across the range."
The whole mobile payment thing certainly seems to be ramping up. As we reported yesterday, Google Wallet is to make the whole process a lot easier and all we need now in this country is buy in from the major stores and banks which may be more difficult and time consuming.
But at least the NFC movement seems to be gathering momentum and Orange buying into it will certainly be a major boost. It could be the most exciting and revolutionary new inclusion on a handset since the N95 gave us built in GPS.