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RIM struggles with BlackBerry NFC implementation

Research In Motion, the company behind the popular BlackBerry range of smart phones and the upcoming PlayBook tablet, is planning to introduce NFC technology to its latest handsets - but is struggling to reach agreements with mobile operators.Near Field Communications technology (NFC) is thought by many to be the next big thing in the mobile market. As well as enabling smart phones to act as virtual wallets, paying for small transactions with a simple wave at a suitably-equipped terminal, it allows rapid two-way communication between any two NFC-ready devices.

According to comments made to the Wall Street Journal, RIM is seeing resistance to its plans to follow Google's lead and introduce NFC to its BlackBerry devices from the mobile networks. Specifically, it's finding that plans to store the NFC data on the smartphone itself are proving unpopular, with mobile networks arguing that the data belongs on the SIM card so that it can be easily moved from one handset to another - even between manufacturers.

The operators argue that an encrypted region of the SIM card is the logical place for the data to be stored: as well as allowing portability, it also means that a single SIM card could be used with any brand of NFC-equipped smartphone. RIM, for obvious reasons, would rather have a system of its own which is unique to the BlackBerry operating system - cutting the networks out of the equation, and keeping any revenue share from the payment process for itself.

It's this sort of squabble that makes Apple's rumoured decision to skip NFC technology in the iPhone 5 - due, sources claim, to a lack of industry standard - seem logical and forward-thinking. By delaying its introduction of NFC until next year's launch of the iPhone 6, Apple has a better chance of being able to pick up on the winning method of implementation and run with it - a technique which has served the company - which is rarely the first to market with a given technology - well in the past.

While sources remain adamant that Apple is definitely experimenting with NFC - the most recent claims see unnamed sources tell Apple news site Cult of Mac that 'several prototypes' are being tested - RIM's current struggles make it clear that being an early adopter of the technology could be more pain that it's worth.

Tags: research in motion, nfc, blackberry, iphone, near field communications