A few years back, Keycorp has been a member of the Java Card Forum, before to focus exclusively on Multos. Today, Gemalto is buying the Multos activity from Keycorp, together with their customer base, mostly in Asia. This is a sad way to celebrate the 10 years of Multos, which was a well-designed smart card system from the beginning.
However, this good design has some drawbacks: the specifications on the Multos site are for some dated “August 1997″. Such a stability is impressive; in August 1997, Java Card 2.0 was still a rough draft, far from stable, and even the final version was far from being a massively deployable product. On the other hand, this stability also shows that the technology has not evolved; while Multos remains a good basis for low-cost payment cards, it will most ilkely not be the basis for high-end SIM cards use for mobile payments in NFC-enabled phones. Olivier Piou mentions this in the press release, but he is only talking about
… commercially-demonstrated highest-security post-issuance activation service, which will be critical for example in mobile payment and NFC (Near Field Communication) applications.
I would love to know why Keycorp is selling now, and even more, why Gemalto is buying Multos rather than simply trying to replace them with their own products. By reading the press release, I get the feeling that the Multos infrastructure is what interests them, but this is just a guess, so I suppose that time will tell…