London Museum Launches First Tag Campaign Via Nokia’s ‘Hub’

Aug 18 2011

Nokia is participating in the first launch of an NFC tag-reading campaign as part of its NFC Hub service, helping to equip two museums in London with tags and the statistics to measure their use.

The project has launched at the Museum of London and its sister institution, the Museum of London Docklands, which together got a combined 600,000 visitors last year. Users can tap on about 90 tags deployed in the museums, next to artwork or other objects and in other areas that transmit Web links to the phones. These open Web pages with more information on the objects or enable users to buy tickets to future exhibits or check in, follow or “like” the museums on such sites as foursquare, Twitter and Facebook. The museums launched the program last Friday.

The tags give users the “ability of get more information while walking around the museum,” Rupert Englander, head of services, sales and marketing for Nokia in the United Kingdom and Ireland, told NFC Times.

Nokia launched its NFC Hub earlier in the summer, part of its emphasis on “open NFC” applications.

With the NFC Hub, Nokia seeks to help businesses and other organizations set up and manage campaigns, including selling tags or full smart posters, which Nokia’s agents will program with URLs linking their customers' handsets to mobile Web sites.

The NFC Hub also includes a back-end system that can host the open NFC campaigns. The system keeps track of how many users are tapping on particular tags and the types of NFC phones they are using.

Nokia launched the NFC Hub in the United Kingdom, but plans to move the program to other countries.

One problem is the scarcity of NFC phones that can read the tags. Nokia last month began shipping new C7 smartphones with the updated Symbian operating system, called Anna, which enables the NFC features in the phones. An over-the-air update of Anna to turn on NFC in existing C7 phones is expected soon. Update: Nokia announced Thursday that the update is available. All About Symbian reported the update is now available in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and India, with other markets to follow. End update.

The tags are standard so are designed to work with other NFC phones, such as Google’s Nexus S, made by Samsung, or the 2G Samsung S5230, which Orange UK and Barclaycard have launched for their Quick Tap mobile payment service.

Since launching the NFC Hub, Nokia has cut the prices of tags in half, from £6 (US$9.83) to £3, and also slashed prices for tags containing embedded business card details, from £11 to £7. Smart posters still start at £20.

Those are still higher than tags sold at an increasing number of online NFC tag stores springing up. Englander defended the prices, saying the tags sold on other sites don’t come with services, and sometimes they have no programming.

“When you buy tags, you’re getting a campaign behind you,” he told NFC Times. “The tags you buy from other sources, you don’t get that whole management backend.”

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