An undocumented rumour is suggesting that AT&T will be blocking near-field communications in their upcoming BlackBerry Bold 9900 at the software level. That said, there might be couple of workarounds found by the BlackBerry community at large post-launch. It’s not a huge loss, since NFC usage isn’t particularly widespread, but it does seem like a bit of a dick move. Carriers have never been shy about leveraging the control RIM hands them on a silver platter to remotely nuke functions like GPS and Bluetooth file transfers, but what does AT&T have to gain from removing NFC? Do they need some extra time to figure out how they’ll snag a cut of every contactless transaction? Or maybe it’s something more mundane, like getting through their lengthy testing process. Supposedly that’s what slowed down the rollout of the PlayBook’s Bridge function on AT&T BlackBerry smartphones.
One guy here at the BBM Apps Hackathon in New York has an AT&T 9900, and said he didn’t have an issues accessing the NFC features, so hopefully this rumour doesn’t pan out. Besides, the thing might not be launching until November, so who knows what it will look like come launch. What do you guys think – is this a necessary feature to keep the BlackBerry Bold 9900 reasonably competitive, or is NFC technology still too young to be useful?