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ABI: Japan unlikely to see U-SAM benefits in near future

Posted: 05 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ABI Research brief? U-SAM chipset? Japan market? future benefits?

In its new research brief, "The Transition from FeliCa to Near Field Communication (NFC) in Japan," ABI Research purported that the benefits of the joint initiative by Sony Corp. and NXP Semiconductors to provide a contactless platform that combines FeliCa and NFC technologies, may not be felt in the short term. But its long-term potential is hugely significant and could make Japan a proving ground for NFC.

Sony's FeliCa contactless payment technology is well established and used in transit ticketing and access applications in Japan. FeliCa is often seen as a proprietary precursor to standards-based NFC systems, but its presence may have acted to impede NFC's progress in the Japanese market.

Now a joint initiative by Sony and NXP aims to provide a path for both technologies to coexist and grow. The new, interoperable chipset, dubbed Universal Secure Access Module (U-SAM), will support multiple security protocols within the NFC and the FeliCa 2.0 environments.

"The story of U-SAM, FeliCa and NFC can be summed up by four Ps: patience, progress, potential and partnership," said ABI research director Michael Liard. "Patience, because the positive effects of dual infrastructure support on NFC adoption won't be felt overnight. Indeed, there will have to be clear NFC business models for Japanese service providers to adopt it widely. Progress, because the U-SAM project should reduce the drag of dual infrastructures. Potential, because if this collaborative innovation works, Japanese consumers will enjoy many useful new contactless applications using their mobile phones. And partnership, because it is encouraging that Sony and NXP are addressing the problem together to support and enable a whole new market."

"ABI Research believes the short-term opportunity created by the U-SAM project is not significant," adds ABI Research senior analyst Andy Bae. "But the mid- to long-term potential is very considerable, and Japan may become a proving-ground for NFC technology that could enable multiple applications via the mobile phone, applications ranging from 'smart posters' to multimedia transfers between consumer electronics devices."

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