Nokia Lumia 610 company's first NFC-enabled Windows Phone

Nokia has announced an NFC-enabled version of the Lumia 610 smartphone, with operator Orange revealed as the first network to sell it.

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Nokia has announced an NFC-enabled version of the Lumia 610 smartphone, with operator Orange revealed as the first network to sell it.

Nokia has added an NFC (near-field communication) software stack on top of the Windows Phone OS, which doesn't yet have integrated support for the short-range communication technology.

Orange offers commercial NFC services in France and the UK, but isn't revealing when the Lumia 610 NFC will go on sale or what it will cost.

The standard version of the Lumia 610 will cost €189 (£156) without subsidies, and will begin shipping during the second quarter.

Nokia will keep a close eye on the rollout of its new device following news from the US where the Lumia 900 was unable to access the AT&T data network. Nokia responded by offering people who bought the phone an exchange for new device. Users who buy the new Windows Phone in the US before April 21 receive $100 credit to their bill as a gesture of goodwill.

Payment is the NFC application that is getting the most attention, but other ways of using he technology are expected to drive usage in the beginning.

However, when Forrester analyst Thomas Husson was introduced to the Nokia Lumia 610 he was dubious as to whether mobile users will use NFC technology for purchases. He said:"I believe that most consumers using an NFC device in 2012 will more likely use it for device-pairing or data-sharing purposes than for payments. There is an ongoing debate about bar codes' potential replacement by NFC; I think both technologies serve different objectives and have different advantages but will continue to co-exist.

"The largest device manufacturers have now integrated NFC into their product portfolios, and this will help in building a critical mass of devices in the years ahead."

But Gartner research director Sandy Shen said earlier this year that the availability of more phones will help drive NFC applications, first non-payment and simple apps including marketing, advertising, coupons, and eventually payment.

The Lumia 610 NFC can pair with accessories and read tags with a single tap. The latter allows users to check in on Foursquare, follow someone on Twitter, like someone on Facebook or tap a tag to start a download. Users will also be able to create their own tap with the Nokia Tag Writer app.

The video also demos how a user can tap the phone against a speaker to start streaming music to it.

Nokia said that to ensure that future owners of the phone can use it in as many places as possible, it has been certified for contactless payments with MasterCard and Visa.

The Lumia 610 was announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year. The phone has a 3.7-inch display with a 800-by-480 pixel resolution and a 5-megapixel camera.

It has only 256MB of RAM, compared to 512MB in Nokia's other Lumia phones, something developers have to keep in mind if they want their applications to run on the Lumia 610.