HP said to be planning NFC devices

Olga Kharif
14 Jun 2011

Hewlett-Packard Co. is developing mobile devices that will help consumers make purchases wirelessly, two people familiar with the company's plans said.

The company is considering introducing phones and tablets based on near field communication technology, which lets users pay for items and receive coupons and loyalty points by tapping the gadgets on posters and grocery store cash registers, said one of the people, who requested anonymity because the plans haven't been made public. The first NFC devices may be available by year-end, the person said.

Hewlett-Packard, which bought Palm Inc. for $1.2 billion in 2010, is adding the feature to help keep alive a brand that's losing ground in the market for smartphones. Palm's share dropped to 2.6 percent in the three months that ended in April, from 3.2 percent in the previous period, researcher ComScore Inc. says. The company won't release a new device that can vie with Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet until July.

"Other folks are going to build this capability into devices, so, competitively, HP needs to do that," said Ed Finkler, an independent programmer who has created an application for devices that run Palm's WebOS operating system.

Third-party developers will be able to build apps and services using the capability, one of the people said.

Leslie Letts, a spokeswoman for Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard, declined to comment.

Hewlett-Packard said this week it will start selling its TouchPad in the U.S. in July. The tablet will compete with rival products from Apple and machines that feature Google Inc.'s operating system.

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