Google Gets into NFC with Nexus S and Zetawire Acquisition

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

Google is making sure it’s ready for the mobile operator joint venture, Isis—and any other NFC-based scheme. Its forthcoming Android update, 2.3, aka Gingerbread, includes support for NFC in the operating system. Google’s just released Nexus S phone, the preferred handset for Android developers, contains an NFC chipset. And now, Google has acquired a Canadian start-up called Zetawire for its NFC and mobile wallet-related patents as well as the trademarked “Walleto” moniker as awarded by the US Patent and Trademark office.

The initial NFC capability in the Nexus S is one-way, read-only mode. Two-way operation will, no doubt, follow fairly promptly.

While that secretive Cupertino firm hasn’t said anything about NFC yet, Apple is widely anticipated to include NFC capability in its next iPhone. Google, the parent of Android, wants to make sure its mobile operating system is able to fully participate in the coming mobile payments, couponing, receipting, person-to-person payment, loyalty, identity management, physical access, and information gathering NFC future.

Google continues to gobble up startups, and we’ve just uncovered a deal that supports its near field communications (NFC) ambitions. We’ve learned that Google recently picked up Zetawire, a Canadian startup focusing on mobile payments transactions. Like most of Google’s buys, this was a small deal, but it plays into a bigger market.

Little is known about Toronto-based Zetawire, but we suspect that the company was in the pre-revenue stage, making its only valuable asset a patent and corresponding trademark awarded by the US Patent and Trademark office. According to the filing, the patent provides for mobile banking, advertising, identity management, credit card and mobile coupon transaction processing. These features would allow a consumer to make purchases using their smartphone instead of their credit card. Think of a smartphone with this technology as a virtual wallet (in fact, the company has also trademarked the name Walleto for these very purposes).

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Google Nexus S technical specs:

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