"With the availability of new NFC-enabled devices from Samsung, and many more from our other handset partners to come in 2011, we are moving closer to a world in which we believe mobile contactless services will soon become the norm," says Orange's EVP of mobile services.
"The Samsung Wave 578 will be launched by Orange in Spain, Poland and France from Q2 this year," says Orange, "before being rolled out to the wider Orange European footprint. It will be the first in a series of NFC-enabled handsets that will include devices from LG and Nokia, amongst others. Orange expects that by the end of 2011 over half of all new smartphone models to be added to its range for Europe will be optimised for mobile contactless services."
No reason for the exclusion of the UK, where last month Orange's joint venture with Barclaycard committed to the launch of commercial NFC services in the second quarter of 2011, is given in the official announcement.
The announcement does, however, provide the first confirmation of rumours that LG is to launch an NFC phone this year.
Orange first committed to begin introducing NFC services "in the majority of countries in which it has a presence" in 2011 in December 2010.
"In line with Orange's strategy to give mobile customers the best possible access to content and new services, the Orange Samsung Wave 578 is equipped with NFC connectivity in a sleek and user-friendly design," says Orange. "The inclusion of SIM-secured contactless capabilities will lay the foundations for Orange to enable a tranche of new services from partners in the future, ranging from mobile payment to ticketing and transportation."
The devices will also feature Orange signature services including Orange TV Player, Orange Maps, Orange Messenger and the Orange Application Shop.
"We are spearheading the third biggest revolution in the mobile arena, after mobile voice services and the explosion in mobile data," says Anne Bouverot, executive vice president of mobile services at Orange. "Mobile contactless services will change people's daily lives. We're very pleased that partners like Samsung are helping us to accelerate these plans. Our clear ambition is to create a vibrant eco-system and by combining our own mobile innovations with the best handsets, we can fulfil our vision of bringing new mobile services that will benefit everyone."
"Samsung provided us with the 'Player One Cityzi' handset which enabled the Cityzi service in Nice to become one of the world's first mass-market commercial contactless services," added Bouverot. "With the availability of new NFC-enabled devices from Samsung, and many more from our other handset partners to come in 2011, we are moving closer to a world in which we believe mobile contactless services will soon become the norm."