RIM introduces Tag for sharing using NFC

The feature will be part of the BlackBerry 7 update and will not be interoperable with NFC phones from other vendors

Research In Motion (RIM) has announced Tag, a feature that will allow users of some BlackBerry phones to share contact information, documents and multimedia content by tapping their BlackBerry smartphones together, the company said on Sunday.

BlackBerry Tag is based on NFC (Near Field Communications) wireless technology. Support for it will be incorporated in the BlackBerry 7 software update, according to RIM. The first smartphones to support BlackBerry Tag will be the recently launched BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 and BlackBerry Curve 9350, 9360 and 9370, which all have NFC hardware built in.

Mobile payment using NFC is getting a lot of attention, but proponents of the technology plan to use it for other applications too, including pairing headsets with phones and, as in the case of BlackBerry Tag, sharing information.

At first, Tag will only work between compatible phones from RIM, a spokesman said. In addition to transmitting information, it will also allow BlackBerry Messenger users to add one another as contacts.

RIM will also expose Tag to developers through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) on the BlackBerry platform, hoping that they will take advantage of the "tap to share" functionality from within their own applications, the company said. Developers that want to learn more about how NFC works on RIM's OS should travel to San Francisco for the BlackBerry DevCon event, which takes place week.

The more widespread a technology becomes, the more attractive it becomes to developers. On that note, NFC suffered a blow when the iPhone 4S was launched without support for the technology, but Apple nixing the technology is not a major setback, according to Sandy Shen , research director at Gartner.

"I think the market will develop as it is, though it could have been accelerated had the iPhone 4S included NFC," Shen said via e-mail.

The BlackBerry Tag feature was unveiled by RIM's Co-CEO Jim Balsillie during his keynote speech at the GITEX conference in Dubai.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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