Thursday, November 18, 2010

CARTES Calling...

Cartes 2010 is now upon us and you can’t help thinking about the years gone by. Several people have told me that this year they are not sure if they are going. It’s a mature market and most companies are trying to keep the expenses down, if you’re coming from the USA then it’s not an insignificant cost.

In the early days of Cartes it was exciting because there would always be something new and often inspirational but in more recent years you knew before you got there what you were going to see. Now is this because we are so much better informed through the internet or is it that there really isn’t anything that new. This is going to be my mission for 2010 to find something new and exciting, it’s a bit like the projects they give on ‘The Apprentice’ a UK BBC program designed to find a new recruit for Lord Alan Sugar’s business empire. The potentials on the TV usually screw up and it’s fun to watch so I’ll try and do a little better, at least I’ll listen to what people have to say.

But of course that’s not the main reason for going, it’s really all about meeting friends new and old to chat about what’s happening in the industry. I guess from our stable we’re still quite intrigued by NFC, will it end up in every phone, will Apple adopt NFC? We hear so much talk about stickers (i.e. contactless labels) that you attach to the back of your phone to do payments. Everybody seems to see it as an intermediate step on the way to full NFC, call me dumb but I can’t see it, I’d just as soon have a contactless card in my purse. Anyway we shall be there as always to wrestle with these issues in the bar, please feel free to join us.

Oh and I forgot to mention it but at the moment there are no strikes with the RER in Paris forecast for the duration of the show, that will be a change, a normal Metro service to the exhibition.

Our lead article this month is all about the competition in smart mobile phones between the main operating systems including the latest rumours about Apple and Gemalto working on a super SIM. This is to allow users to make their choice of network operator when they buy their phone (or iPad). The suggestion is that the SIM might not be removable it could even be a virtual SIM buried in the memory of the iPhone although the security experts have told me that is unlikely because somewhere you need to securely manage the cryptographic keys that authenticate your phone for billing purposes.

So here’s the thought, how much do you value the removable SIM that can be changed from phone to phone? Of course in the early days everything was stored in the SIM card including your SMS messages and contact lists. Today most of it goes into the phone memory so the SIM plays a small role in the applications. I know we have SIM Toolkit but does anybody use it?

The next problem of course is that the phone is usually locked to the network operator that has subsidised the purchase of the phone so although you can change phones, changing operator is more bother.

Technically I’m assured that you could have a chip built into the phone and it could be configured over the air waves. Now what would that do for the business profile of the likes of Gemalto and Oberthur Card Systems? I wouldn’t dismiss it Apple seem to be hovering in an area that could lead to just that….

See you at Cartes.

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