After checking out their new smartphones, RIM gave us a sneak peek at BlackBerry Tag, which will really start putting near-field communications to work. Just as described, BlackBerry tag will allow users to quickly and easily share content between BlackBerry devices; by putting them butt-to-butt, you’ll be able to transfer ringtones, voice notes, contacts, images, videos, calendar items, documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, browser links, and whatever else third part developers chose to support. It seems like the NFC itself is mostly just used to initiate a Bluetooth transfer, but that’s still pretty great considering how much of a pain it can be to pair up devices.
The main take-away from this demo for me is that though contactless payments tends to be the main use case cited when it comes to NFC technology, there are many more options to explore. Tapping two devices together to share web pages is vaguely reminiscent of webOS on the TouchPad, but that wouldn’t be the first time RIM borrowed something from the now-defunkt platform; just look at how the PlayBook handles bezel gestures and multitasking. NFC also promises to be big in access control, namely in business to get through secure doors, but I could see it as a great mobile ticketing agent for events, too.
Though it might seem like RIM is blasting towards an NFC-filled future on all cylinders, they’re very mindful that retail still needs to catch up, as do payment partners. Just take a look at how easily wireless service providers can lock out the feature if they’re not comfortable supporting it. At the very least, RIM is busy making sure that the devices will be out in the wild, ready to make use of the feature as soon as it goes live.
Here’s a quick video demo of how it all works. We’re told RIM will be writing up a blog post soon with more details.