You’re buying groceries and, when it’s time to pay, you tap your cell phone on a symbol shown on the cash register. That’s a vision of e-commerce that Google hopes to advance in its next version of the Android operating system.
On Monday, CEO Eric Schmidt demonstrated this functionality to a Web 2.0 Summit conference in San Francisco. He showed an unnamed new cell phone running a version of the upcoming Android 2.3, code-named Gingerbread. Schmidt said the operating system and the device support Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, and he used it to check in to the conference by simply touching the phone to a conference sign with a receiver built in. In doing so, the interaction launched Google Maps on the phone, which various observers have guessed is the next version of Google’s Android-based phone, the Nexus One.
‘Been Around for a Long Time’
NFC technology is currently present in debit cards that allow the user to make a payment by touching the card to a reader in, say, a gas pump. Devices supporting Gingerbread, which is expected to be released in a few weeks, will be able to utilize existing credit-card numbers or other forms of payment.
Schmidt indicated that Google will offer Google Checkout on such devices, which could mean that various payment systems, such as multiple credit cards and PayPal, could be utilized through the same device. He said credit-card companies like the idea, as they think it will decrease loss rates.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that the concept of using a cell phone as a payment device “has been around for a long time.” But, he said, the only place he’s seen it actually work “is in Japan for getting on trains.”
He also noted that experiments and field tests for…