Apple hires Benjamin Vigier as Product Manager of Mobile Commerce [NFC in iPhone 5?]

Apple recently hired Benjamin Vigier as a “Product Manager” for the company’s “Mobile Commerce” unit according to his LinkedIn profile. His career in mobile spans all the way to 1997 where he was part of the team that invented Java for mobile phones or as we all know it: J2ME. Then in 1998 he did some work for Visa, developing the first version of Java’s Global Platform Device Framework. After the dotcom crash in the early part of this century he became a consultant and one of his clients was French operator Bouygues Telecom. There he was leading business development projects based around SIM cards, NFC and RFID chips, DRM, and more. Later he eventually joined Bouygues Telecom where he lead the team that was in charge of the operator’s Near Field Communication strategy.

In 2006 Benjamin joined SanDisk where he was responsible for mobile commerce and NFC related activities. Note that SanDisk has yet to release any NFC based devices, at least as far as I’m aware. He was also wheeling and dealing with operators all around the world to get them to bundle SanDisk’s products in their devices.

And finally, his last role before becoming one of Steve Jobs’ slaves, was at mFoundry, who you may not be aware of by name, but you most certainly know their work: the Starbucks iPhone application and Paypal Mobile.

Now as for what Benjamin is going to do at Apple … all we know is his title: “Product Manager of Mobile Commerce”. Is Apple planning on getting into the wireless payment space by finally leveraging their iTunes customer database? If so then how are they going to persuade retailers to deploy NFC payment terminals? And what about all those iTunes users who don’t have an iPhone?

Apple’s certainly got a lot of NFC patents under their belt, so it’s nice to see them make a significant hire that could potentially take advantage of the concepts they imagined many years ago and then stuffed in a drawer for later use.

[Via: NFC World]

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