NXP and Gemalto have signed a deal that will see Gemalto taking over NXP's mobile services business unit in Sophia Antipolis.
The move gives Gemalto expertise in the transport sector, an area it sees as being key to the development of the NFC market. It also sees NXP stepping back from the applications software end of the Mifare4Mobile intitiative it launched in November 2008. The company has made it clear, however, that it will continue to work on the development of NFC chips and will maintain a central role in the evolution of the Mifare4Mobile interface specifications.
Following the transfer, the team of some twenty people will continue to be based in Sophia Antipolis and will continue to develop and market software and service solutions that meet the Mifare4Mobile interface specifications — only, now, it will be on behalf of Gemalto rather than NXP.
Gemalto has a long-term involvement in NFC via its market-leading position in the SIM and smart card market and as one of the main proponents of the Single Wire Protocol. Its main focus with NFC to date, however, has been its Trusted Service Manager.
In the last month, however, it has also announced the development with Inside Contactless of an NFC solution for handset makers and, with NXP and Infineon, demonstrated a mobile contactless solution compatible with both the Single Wire Protocol and existing Mifare systems.
Now, this new deal with NXP positions the company squarely in the forefront of the NFC solutions market. "This strategic move by the two industry leaders aims to accelerate the global adoption of NFC technology in existing contactless infrastructures and further promotes the deployment of Mifare," says the official announcement.
"Adding this Mifare4Mobile software further strengthens Gemalto's Trusted Service Manager (TSM) platform offer linking transport operators, banks and mobile phone operators enabling the mobile phone to be used with existing payment and contactless ticketing infrastructure," it adds.
Gemalto's CEO, Olivier Piou, explains his company's reasoning: "We believe that transportation will be a favourite application for NFC phones and will help spur adoption of the technology. Mifare is the reference in contactless transportation and we welcome this opportunity to add Mifare capability to our Trusted Service Manager services platform".
NXP is not stepping back from NFC altogether, though. The official announcement explains that it "will continue to invest in the development of industry-leading NFC chips fully compliant with current standards and interoperable with existing contactless infrastructure."
NXP will retain and continue to develop certain core intellectual property rights too. "The specifications of the Mifare4Mobile interface and the associated intellectual property will remain in the ownership of NXP, who will ensure interoperability and full availability to all market players on terms released in December 2008 on http://mifare.net/products/mifare4mobile," the announcement explains. "NXP will also have a central role in evolving the Mifare4Mobile interface specifications."
Rick Clemmer, chief executive officer of NXP Semiconductors, added that "As the co-inventor and leader in NFC technology, NXP continues to shape the NFC ecosystem with key industry partners by further evolving the Mifare technology on NFC devices... The agreement demonstrates the importance of the Mifare technology in contactless applications and is a major step to large scale deployments of NFC based services."
The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and labour council consultations and is expected to close during the second quarter of 2009.