No Word on NFC from Nokia with Pair of New Symbian Phones

While Nokia last month finally turned on the NFC features of its first Symbian NFC phone, the C7, the handset maker apparently is not planning to enable all of its remaining Symbian smartphones with NFC.

Specifications released with the recently announced Nokia E6 and X7 smartphones make no mention of NFC, calling into question an earlier pledge by Nokia to release all new Symbian smartphones starting this year with NFC.

That pledge, however, was made last June by Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s former smartphone guru, who abruptly resigned as executive vice president for mobile solutions just before the Nokia World conference in September. He had been passed over when Nokia appointed former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop as its CEO.

Elop snubbed the Symbian platform when he and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced last February that Nokia would adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system as its primary smartphone platform, condemning Symbian to a slow death.

The Finnish handset maker pledged to continue to make Symbian smartphones in 2011 and 2012 and has said it plans to ship 150 million more Symbian phones above its existing installed base of 200 million Symbian devices.

Whether it hits that 150-million Symbian goal remains to be seen. But Nokia, which has affirmed its commitment to NFC, likely will support NFC with some Symbian phones.

In addition, the handset maker is expected to incorporate NFC in forthcoming Windows Phone devices. Microsoft is actively working on NFC for the platform. The first Nokia Windows Phone model could be introduced before the end of 2011, though it’s not certain to support NFC.

NXP Semiconductors, which supplies NFC chips to Nokia, projected in December a market of 70 million NFC chips this year, from all suppliers. CEO Richard Clemmer confirmed the projection in February. Whether that remains the case without the most recently announced Symbian phones supporting NFC is unclear.

The C7 shipped to U.S. mobile carrier T-Mobile USA for a launch earlier this month under the Astound name, with the NFC chip enabled. Nokia had started shipping the phone in other markets last fall with the NFC chip inside, though without the NFC functionality turned on. Nokia is expected to disclose details of the availability of the NFC-enabled C7 outside of the United States soon. 

The Nokia E6, a business smartphone; and the Nokia X7, focused on entertainment, both support an updated version of the Symbian^3 operating system, called Anna. They are expected to ship during this quarter.

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