LG temporarily abandons Windows Phone

Quick! Everybody abandon ship! The Windows Phone ship is sinking…or maybe not. LG (Windows Phone’s premiere OEM partner..)has simply announced during its latest earnings conferences call that it has no immediate plans to manufacture or ship a new Windows Phone based smartphone. Nothing really shocking here given that the south Korean manufacturer was totally absent from the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango launch last year and hasn’t done anything meaningful to the Windows Phone ecosystem since the initial platform launch in 2010.

LG isn’t totally abandoning Windows Phone and will continue research and development efforts in hopes of a brighter future. The company’s mobile division has been in the crapper for a little while now even with the launch of several high-end Android smartphones plagued by atrocious firmware issues (everything isn’t to blame on Windows Phone..). The LG Fantasy E740 with it’s NFC chipset will remain a prototype for ever.

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Nokia Lumia 610 NFC officially announced: Q3 2012 release

Nokia has officially announced the first NFC enabled Windows Phone handset today; the Nokia Lumia 610 NFC. This may sound surprising given that even the company’s high end Windows Phone model, the Lumia 900, which just launched a few days ago doesn’t have an NFC chip in there. Nokia has apparently added its own software stack on top of Windows Phone 7.5 Tango to get this whole NFC thing going. Remember that LG has apparently done something similar with, the yet to be announced, LG Fantasy handset. The Nokia Lumia 610 NFC will be available in Q3 2012 on Orange. Check out the full press release after the break and a video demo of the handset in action:

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LG Fantasy E740 aka LG Miracle out in the wild: First Windows Phone with NFC support

LG which was one of the most active launch partner of Windows Phone 7 in the fall of 2010 with the LG Optimus 7 and LG Quatum has been oddly missing from the WP7.5 Mango festivities a few months ago. The mysterious LG Fantasy that has emerged on the web several times in the past 6 months is back again flaunting in the wild and nearing it’s official unveiling later this month during MWC. So what can we expect from this devices? Well not much in terms of over all design compared to HTC and Nokia’s offerings and the SoC is apparently an MSM8255 clocked at only 1Ghz. The device also on packs 8GB of internal storage, a front facing VGA camera and a 5MP main camera with no flash on the back. The 4″ screen is a LCD TFT Nova panel. The most interesting part though is the inclusion of an NFC chip which as far as we knew won’t be supported until Windows Phone 8 Apollo launches later this year but seems to be functional under windows Phone 7.5 thanks to an native debug app developed by LG. Anyway, hit the break to watch the device in blurry action and more blurry pictures.

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Another render of the Nokia Searay

Here’s another render of what may be either the Nokia Searay courtesy of T-Mobile in Germany. There isn’t much to say here given that we don’t have much information the device’s final specification (other than the 3.7″ screen noted here). But it remains to be seen if Nokia will use the Searay codename as the final retail product name (remember the AT&T renders of the HTC Mondrian..). We will know soon enough

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Don’t mess with Nokia’s secret Windows Phone

I can understand companies having strict policies about internal leaks especially Microsoft who’s constantly the “victim” of such things but this one caught me by surprise: Joe Marini, Principal Program Manager for Windows Phone (the IE9/HTML5 dev head) has just quit the company’s when he got informed that he was going to be fired apparently because of his recent tweets about the Nokia Sea Ray (here). Ouch.. One thing’s for sure though; that “Apple like” secrecy policy that Nokia talked about a few months ago is in full effect.

As I posted last week my sources told me that the handset should start shipping in mid-october (I’m awaiting more info on this but what just happened with Joe will surely make this more complicated)

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Nokia SeaRay Windows Phone to start shipping in mid-october ?

You may have noticed that I’m not a big fan of rumors and that I usually try to avoid posting about such things but this time I would like to share with you an interesting bit info that I heard earlier today from a trustworthy source (I tweeted about it here). If you remember I discussed the Nokia SeaRay unveiling not long ago when a Microsoft rep told me during the HTC Titan / Radar launch event that Nokia World (October 26) won’t be where the mysterious phone will be unveiled. This made me assume that Microsoft and Nokia will probably announce the device earlier than Oct 26 given that HTC is now scheduled to ship its Mango handsets on the first week of October in Europe while AT&T was apparently in a rush to announce its line up and spill the beans about the Samsung Focus S and Samsung Focus Flash without waiting for the formal Samsung unveiling (note that we still don’t have the full Samsung devices specs or even a single official picture or render). The Mango update roll out is also still officially expected to start this fall (fall starts on September 23).

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The Nokia Sea Ray won’t be announced at Nokia World

Before posting my HTC Titan and HTC Radar hands on impression I wanted to talk about something interesting that a Microsoft rep told during the HTC Event a few minutes ago. I specifically asked him about the Nokia Sea Ray announcement and the Nokia World event taking place in London on October 26th because I anted to know if this was the date and location of Nokia’s first Windows Phone unveiling. HE was obviously reluctant to answer this question but finally told me that Nokia World wasn’t going to be it and that there is another other specific event scheduled for the device’s launch (before or after Oct 26th?). This is obviously not an official statement so please take with a grain salt but given today’s HTC event , the launch of the Fujitsu IS12T last week I wouldn’t be surprised if Nokia does something prior to Nokia world.

All future Nokia phones to feature NFC support

According to Nokia’s VP Ilari Nurmi, from now on, all of our products will have an NFC chip inside. Another Nokia VP, Mark Selby, added that the company will ad support for such chips in their Windows Phone 7 handsets. NFC support in Nokia’s Windows Phones has long been rumored but never confirmed. It isn’t the first time that the Finnish mobile manufacturer has claimed that all of its upcoming handsets will be NFC equipped so this isn’t really anything new.

Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that the Nokia Sea Ray will indeed by NFC equipped but one can only hope that this will be the case given that the company’s first Windows Phone 7 handset hardware will be for the most part based on the Nokia N9 which has has an NFC chip (but different SoC and screen).

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More Windows Phone 7 NFC support rumors. Nokia’s first differentiating feature?

Bloomberg is running a story today corroborating last week’s NYTimes claims that the next version of Windows Phone (Windows Phone 7 Mango or Windows Phone 8 Apollo?) will have support for NFC chips and wireless payment. I’m now fairly sure that this must be related to Nokia’s upcoming Windows phone 7 handsets which are still scheduled to come out in late Q4 2011 / early 2012. The Finnish company has always planned (even before the MS partnership) that all of its future high-end smartphones will include an NFC chip so it’s now safe to assume that this will be the company’s first differentiating feature compared to other WP7 OEMs (this obviously won’t stop HTC, LG, or Samsung to include NFC chips in the future WP7 devices).

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NFC enabled Windows Phone 7 handsets in the works?

File this under rumor tag; According to NyTimes “sources” a Windows Phone 7 OEM which is hinted as being Nokia, is working on adding NFC support to it’s future Windows Phone 7 devices:

A person familiar with new iterations of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform said a partner handset manufacturer is also exploring adding this technology to the next version of a Microsoft mobile phone. This person also said the new partnership with Nokia and Microsoft could catapult this technology into the mainstream as Nokia has said in the past that it plans to add N.F.C. technology to all its new phones in 2011.

The fact that work is being done is highly probable but let’s also remember that there are super restrictive chassis specs put in place by Microsoft and it would be surprising if one OEM decided to add NFC support to its WP7 phone and not everyone else (feature fragmentation…) Let’s also remember that there is still no Compass API for third party devs or even access to the camera’s raw feed yet. Before adding new features the priority should be put into supporting the current ones..

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Open-Source NFC Protocol Stack released for Android, Windows Mobile & Linux

Here’s an interesting Press Release I’ve just recieved in my mail box.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France, February 3, 2010

- Reflecting a clear and growing trend in the mobile industry, INSIDE Contactless, a leading provider of advanced, open-standard contactless chip technologies, today announced it is making its Open NFC(tm) commercial-grade NFC protocol stack (formerly MicroRead Software Foundation) available in a free and open source edition under the Apache(tm) License, Version 2.0. Offering a consistent API across all NFC hardware, faster time to market and greater flexibility for OEMs and ODMs, INSIDE’s Open NFC 3.4 is available now for WinCE 6.0 (compatible with Windows(tm) Mobile 7) and Linux 2.6 platforms, and an Android(tm) implementation will premier with the planned release of Open NFC 3.5 at the end of March.

“Our decision to release Open NFC under the Apache license demonstrates our willingness to lead the way in bringing high quality, well documented NFC software into the open source arena,” said Philippe Martineau, executive vice president of the NFC business line for INSIDE Contactless. “Open NFC fits right in with the trend toward open platforms in the mobile industry, and will benefit device makers as well as software developers and others in the mobile ecosystem in several ways, providing greater impetus to implementing NFC solutions across a broad range of consumer products.”

Martineau anticipates that the availability of an open source NFC protocol stack should also improve the interoperability of NFC devices, and thus accelerate market adoption.

The Open NFC protocol stack provides a complete NFC middleware solution for mobile phones, embedded products and other devices. Open NFC supports several levels of functionality, from low-level RF control to high-level NFC Forum tag handling, peer-to-peer communications as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairing, interactions with single-wire protocol SIMs and other secure elements and compatibility with smart cards and RFID tags based on Felica, Mifare and ISO 14443 standards.

“Having an open-source NFC stack like Open NFC is a game-changing development, providing greater flexibility in sourcing NFC controllers and a consistent programming interface,” said Gary Koerper, vice president of Engine Systems, Motorola Mobile Devices. “We congratulate INSIDE Contactless for their contribution to the open source movement.”

“Orange believes Open NFC will be a catalyst for change in the NFC marketplace by reducing market fragmentation and removing barriers to adoption of this promising technology,” said Yves Maitre, senior vice president, Mobile Multimedia and Devices at Orange. “INSIDE Contactless has made a major contribution to the advancement of NFC.”

“Qualcomm understands the increasing importance of open source and community-driven software to the mobile industry, and is pleased to see INSIDE Contactless taking this bold move to bring NFC into the open source movement,” said John Elliott, senior director of Emerging Connectivity Technologies at Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Qualcomm is already optimizing two of its UMTS and CDMA2000 NFC handset reference designs for use with the Open-NFC stack, and continues to invest in a number of open source initiatives as customer demand for open and flexible software coupled with powerful mobile hardware platforms continues to increase.”

Open NFC was originally developed for INSIDE’s third-generation MicroRead NFC chip that provides the broadest range of NFC options, enabling numerous new contactless applications, and was the first NFC solution to support the single-wire protocol (SWP). The award-winning MicroRead suite combines third-generation silicon, a full set of interfaces, NFC software libraries and APIs, a field-proven reference design and robust standards support to provide a turnkey contactless reader solution. http://www.insidecontactless.com/

Notice the bolded part? This would suggest that Windows Mobile 7 is actually Windows CE 6 based and not CE 7 like some websites have been claiming.