The NFC battle lines are being drawn. To the surprise of few observers, Verizon will block download of the Google Wallet app onto the new Google – Samsung Electronics Galaxy.
A Google spokesman said Verizon asked it not to include Google Wallet on the new Galaxy Nexus and that consumers won’t be able to download it through the Android app market. “Verizon asked us not to include this functionality in the product,” the spokesman said in a statement, without elaborating on the reason behind Verizon’s move.
Verizon has teamed up with rival carriers AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA on a joint venture that also lets people make payments and redeem offers via their smartphones. That competing project, called Isis, is expected to begin trials next year.
So, we now have a payments-capable smartphone that will only be able to make payments on the Sprint network. A smartphone, by the way, that will command a premium price of $299 with a two year contract. While the assumption continues that Verizon will not block two important NFC modes – service discovery and peer-to-peer – the company’s decision to keep Google Wallet off of the device means it is reserving the card emulation mode for the Isis mobile wallet.
Google had to be expecting this. The fact that it folded Google Checkout into Google Wallet means it understands the value of the alternative mobile wallet approach, one that keeps the card credentials in the cloud and uses the phone simply as an identity provider. That model will ultimately prevail but, in the meantime, NFC’s card emulation mode will only work with certain wallets on certain phones on certain carriers.
With any more of these “platform incompatibilities” as they used to be called, NFC’s introduction really could look like a dog’s breakfast.