CANADIAN PHONE MAKER Research In Motion (RIM) has revealed that Blackberry handsets account for 80 per cent of NFC phones in the UK, giving it a healthy lead in the mobile payments race.
Speaking with The INQUIRER, Gerry Kelliher, senior director of sales and operations at RIM said that Blackberry phones accounted for 80 per cent of NFC phones shipped to retailers in the first quarter, dwarfing the presence of other vendors like HTC and Samsung.
Kelliher said, "Eighty per cent of mobile devices with NFC sold through retail in Q1 2012 were [Blackberry] NFC devices, compared to 72 per cent in 2011."
"We've shipped devices from last August compatible with NFC because we really felt that bringing that to market is a something people can relate with", he added. "We are in a very strong position in the UK."
He added that this makes RIM the front runner when it comes to NFC technology, giving it the edge over rival manufacturers. "If customers are interested in NFC in the UK they need to be looking at Blackberry," he said.
RIM is looking to keep its competitive edge too, and Kelliher said it is commited to having NFC in every new BlackBerry handset.
"We're looking to put NFC in as many devices as possible. Once you get into the space, you get really excited about what the capabilities are. We're heavily invested in NFC. It's a technology that makes magic happen."
Kelliher also told us that RIM plans to bring mobile payments to its Blackberry line, and is working closely with carriers and banks to make this happen in 2012.
"Wireless payments [have] really taken off in the UK this year with Pingit peer to peer and O2 Wallet, so this is really accelerating," he said. "People are so used to wireless techinology because [of] things like Oyster card."
"I think the UK is a prime market. Barclays [has] put a lot of money into it with Barclaycard and people are pushing out payment terminals. A key turning point will be when London Underground take it up and then maybe a tier one super market."
Rounding off our conversation, Kelliher was keen to point out that RIM is not planning to leave the consumer market, saying that earlier reports were nothing more than a misunderstanding.
"The enterprise market is very important to RIM, but we are very focused on the consumer market. Consumer is our volume, and we continue to have huge demand from our customers."
Given inital reactions to RIM's upcoming Blackberry 10 operating system, this UK demand is unlikely to slow down any time soon. µ