THE WRAP: NFC advanced by Google, Orange; Apotheker fired

Staff writer
23 Sep 2011

This week saw some major momentum around NFC, with Google launching its Wallet service in the US and Orange opening a contactless ticket scheme in France. Meanwhile, HP’s chief executive was ousted, and analysts warned of dire times ahead at RIM.

Google secured the backing of big name credit card firms including Visa and American Express for the launch of its NFC-based mobile payment service. Named Wallet, the service is initially available only on US carrier Sprint’s 4G devices, but will quickly be expanded to other regions.

While the firm’s European chief Peter Ayliffe says Google expects mobile payments to truly take off in 2012, the firm will face fierce competition from players including PayPal, and consortiums of European and US operators.

One of those European operators – Orange – applied NFC a little differently, opening a mobile ticketing trial at a soccer match in France. The M-Stadium test involved 20 fans equipped with tickets pre-loaded onto an NFC-enabled SIM, and is the first of 12 such projects being backed by the French government.

Money was the root of all problems at HP this week, as the board sacked chief Leo Apotheker after less than a year in the job, reportedly due to the company’s perilous financial state. Investors are said to have been angered by recent profit forecast cuts and an apparently disjointed strategy from the former top man.

Ovum research fellow Carter Lusher believes uncertainty leading up to the announced appointment of replacement CEO Meg Whitman was damaging to HP. He claimed staff had become demoralized and that the rumors cost the firm customers.

RIM also came under close analyst scrutiny this week, with Jeffries staffer Peter Misek stating plans to profit by selling the firm’s patent horde were unlikely to reap the rewards investors expect. He estimated the retail value of the horde at $1.28 billion – far lower than the $2.5 billion paper value.

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