Thursday, 10 February 2011

Nokia in Smartphone Crisis

A memo from Nokia's new CEO Stephen Elop has sent shock waves throughout the company. In this frank and critical memo Elop revealed that over the last few months he has learnt "that we are standing on a burning platform. And, we have more than one explosion - we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.

Stephen continued, "The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable."

What is Nokia's smartphone future?

Nokia decided to take full control of the Symbian smartphone operating system in early November, after rival handset makers finally abandoned the platform in favour of Google's Android platform. (see full report, SCN November 2010)

Many analysts think Symbian has little future; will Nokia turn to Android or Window? Only time will tell.

Morpho Released Unique MorphoIDent

Morpho (Safran group) has announced the launch of MorphoIDent, the latest handheld mobile device in its line of criminal justice solutions. Designed for public safety agents and officers in the field, it enables real-time, on-the-spot identification based on fingerprint recognition technology. MorphoIDent has got FBI certified PIV sensor, along with full EC and FCC certification.

MorphoIDent is a robust, pocket-sized device using state-of-the-art identification technologies. Fingerprints are captured with an FBI certified optical PIV sensor, including real-time automated quality check and matched against local, national or international databases.

Results are displayed on the device's large colour LCD screen, giving officers fast access to critical crime solving information. MorphoIDent can be easily integrated into existing IT architecture without incurring additional infrastructure costs. MorphoIDent is well-suited for field applications such as patrolling, public gatherings, or in burglary and crime scene investigations.

VeriFone Makes London Taxis Contactless

After a brief pilot conducted in December 2010, VeriFone's taxi card payment and digital media solutions is now offered free to all of London's licenced black taxis, allowing passengers to pay taxi fares without having to hand their card over to the driver.

The system comprises a driver-side payment device with receipt printer, a fixed passenger-facing secure PIN entry device and a full colour display screen for safety information, advertisements and streaming media. Card transactions are routed through VeriFone's secure PAYware payment gateway and are settled to the driver's account three times per week.

According to VeriFone, the system has been approved for TX model taxis by Transport for London's Taxi and Private Hire and recruitment for drivers to use the system is underway.

M2SYS and Qqest to Offer Time and Attendance Security to PCs

Qqest and M2SYS Technology announced a partnership that allows Qqest to offer TimeForce time and attendance customers the added security and efficiency features of biometric identification technology on their PC.

M2SYS' RightPunch solution enables the M2SYS hybrid biometric platform technology to seamlessly interface with Qqest's TimeForce time and attendance system, providing a simple and secure way to record employee timestamps at the PC following a biometric scan. TimeForce customers can select from 3 different types of biometric readers including fingerprint, finger vein and palm vein readers.

Burke Plummer, president and CEO of Qqest said: "After an employee places their finger or palm on a biometric reader, TimeForce authenticates their identity and either denies access to the time and attendance system, or processes the employee's clock-in or clock-out time".

Visa to Acquire PlaySpan

Visa Inc. announce an agreement to acquire PlaySpan Inc., a privately held company whose payments platform handles transactions for digital goods in online games, digital media and social networks around the world. The acquisition of PlaySpan complements Visa's 2010 CyberSource acquisition and extends the company's capabilities into one of the fastest-growing segments of eCommerce - digital and mobile commerce.

PlaySpan provides a Monetization-as-a-Service platform that allows merchants to monetize their content using a broad suite of payment and commerce-related solutions in fraud and risk management, analytics, merchandizing and global payment connectivity. Merchants use PlaySpan's technology to enable their consumers to make safe and convenient purchases online for items such as game credits, premium memberships and digital goods.

Last year, global eCommerce sales reached an estimated $948 billion and they remain a significant growth opportunity for Visa. Approximately 45 percent of U.S. online spend takes place on Visa's network today. For Visa's fiscal first quarter 2011, the company reported 25 percent year-over-year growth in eCommerce payment volumes globally.

Visa will pay approximately $190 million in cash, plus additional consideration for performance milestones. The acquisition is expected to be completed in Visa's fiscal second quarter 2011, pending satisfaction of customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.

New ZK InBio Control Panels with Built-In Biometric Identification Technology

ZKSoftware will release its latest In-Bio access control panels with built-in biometric identification technology in March 2011. ZK InBio Security System adopts the ZK Finger10.0 algorithm and international standard TCP/IP communication protocol. It includes single door, double door and four-door controllers, and is equipped with intelligent, powerful web-based functionality security software that allows users to enrol their fingerprints through ZKSoftware's specially designed fingerprint authorisation sensor.

ZK InBio access control panels are compatible with RS485 fingerprint readers, international standard Wiegand readers, standalone access terminals, smoke detectors, fire alarms and other security devices. Users do not need to spend a lot of money and time on extra standalone biometric terminals, while also obtaining great convenience and high security through ZK InBio.

For applications such as mid-sized enterprises, offices, mobile stations, unattended equipment rooms, substations, bank, ZK InBio Security System can be used. The protection case for InBio controllers is made of ABS with PC polycarbonate material and texture surface treatment technology for scratch resistance. ZK InBio control panels are equipped 32 bit high speed CPU and embedded Linux OS, and it is simple to make rapid identification and develop the functions as required.

DOCOMO and KT to Launch New Cross-border NFC Services

Yesterday, NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced an agreement with South Korea's leading telecom operator, KT Corporation, to use near field communication (NFC) technology to develop cross-border services for mobile payments, mass-transit ticketing, promotional coupons, etc. The new system will be launched in both Japan and South Korea market from around the end of 2012.

Through their joint Business & Technology Cooperation Committee, the two companies are developing NFC common specifications that will be incorporated in devices, networks and billing platforms for seamlessly connected mobile NFC services. Customers travelling between South Korea and Japan will access the services using compatible Android handsets embedded with contactless IC chips.

DOCOMO also plans to submit an outline of the common specifications to global industry associations and standardisation bodies, including the GSM Association.

DOCOMO has already formed strategic tie-ups with payment technology company brand Visa Inc., NFC chip and mobile handset manufacturer Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and SIM card vendor Gemalto N.V. In addition, DOCOMO will collaborate with Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co., Ltd. and bitWallet, Inc. for enhanced cross-border services.

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