Apple for a while has been rumored to be interested in and working on mobile payments. Given the strength of Apple’s great innovation track record and the influence that Apple products wield over the industry, technology and the eco-system, Apple’s interest in Mobile payments is noteworthy. Time and again, repeatedly, Apple has brought forth innovations in various segments it has operated in viz. smartphones (iPhone), Tablets (iPad), Application (Apps store), Music (iTunes and iPod). Given Apple’s stake in Web 2.0 and Mobile 2.0 technologies, a mobile payment platform is a natural extension, a transaction enabler and the missing piece of the monetization game.
Not that Apple is new to the game. They are already doing mobile payments since they launched the iPhone. Their solution is built on an existing payment relationship – iTunes to download music on the web. Apple’s 160 million iTunes users outweigh Paypal’s 90 million.
Contactless payments or Near Field Communication chip iPhones could open up payments and they could help create new business models for in store payments. This could also couple with location based ads and other applications. Apple drove the development of new business models with the music and smart phones – depending on what they do they could change the rules by which different players interact to do payment and commerce. So they have the potential to move the NFC world forward significantly by developing a new tapestry of the hardware, software and business models to move it forward. While NFC has been on the horizon for a while with sporadic trials by Obopay and others, Apple moving into this space should ignite the market. Apple’s moves will have particularly powerful impact, and the only other player who is also mulling contactless payment solutions at this point is Google.
Apart from Contactless payments, Apple is also trying to specialize in allowing users to use their mobile phone number to purchase digital content on the web using their phone number and their phone bill. Boku, a gateway specialist in Mobile carrier billing is rumored to be in talks with Apple for a possible acquisition.
Then there is this talk of Apple trying to create an online Virtual currency much like the Facebook credits for the Application and iTunes purchases. There are significant volumes in there for Apple and again the eco-system is pretty well set and Apple would only need to put the online currency in place for this transaction system to talk off as well. This would mostly cater to P2P payments transfer, casual payments, payments to individual merchants, cross border remittances and check replacement. In markets where P2P is fully implemented it represents over 50% of the mobile payment transactions. This is a big opportunity and right in Obopay’s sweet spot.
Apple is already big in mobile payments with iTunes and Apps store and Apple would sooner be looking to leverage this play into a bigger pie of online and instore payments.
The Lisa Mouse (1983)
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Apple USB Mouse (1998)
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Magic Mouse (2009)
Magic Trackpad (2010)
Web 2.0 Summit (San Francisco, 15th November 2010): Google CEO Eric Schmidt announces NFC integration in the Gingerbread release of Android.
In the same summit, RIM CEO, Jim Balsillie re-iterated “we’d be fools not to have [NFC] in the near term”.
According to reports Apple is also working on the NFC payments domain and would be coming up with their payment product sooner.
In July 2010, Nokia’s Anssi Vanjoki stated that all Nokia smartphones will have NFC from 2011
AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless also have announced the launch of ISIS, an initiative to develop a single platform that will enable their combined 200million customers to make mobile payments using NFC with a launch planned over the next 18 months, with a nationwide rollout planned by 2013.
Near-field Communication (NFC) is characterized as a very short-range radio communication technology with a lot of potential, especially when applied to mobile handsets. Imagine users using the cellphone to interact with posters, magazines, and even with products while at the store, and with such interaction initiating a request or search for related information in real-time. Other usages of NFC include the electronic wallet to make payments using handsets, the same way as with a credit card. NFC makes all this is possible. But NFC is still a young technology. That said, NFC-enabled handsets are being introduced into the market, and deployments and pilots around the world are occurring.
NFC is a short-range high-frequency wireless technology enabling devices to exchange data. It has long promised to enter the mobile phone industry and catalyse many new usage scenarios, from proximity payments and transactions to device pairing and data exchange. But despite gaining considerable traction in Japan, where at least 60 million devices are enabled for proximity payments, NFC has struggled to meet expectations elsewhere. This is despite the technology’s steadily growing presence outside the mobile domain in transportation (for example, London’s Oyster card and San Francisco’s Clipper card) and credit cards (for example, Visa’s payWave and MasterCard’s PayPass).
The mobile phone’s unique position as the most pervasive item of consumer electronics makes it the logical device for NFC to establish ubiquity. While security remains a concern, the maturation of the mobile phone into a highly personal converged device that contains sensitive personal data and performs many other functions means potential social barriers to usage have largely been overcome. In that regard, NFC represents the basis for the next wave of innovation in the mobile space. This goes beyond the utilization of NFC for payments and transactions, the roll-out of which will be slowed by the associated complexity of commercial agreements and the requirement for consistent payment platforms. Therefore, simple applications that extend the versatility and intuitiveness of the mobile phone are likely to be what captures consumer imagination and drives adoption in the near term.
• Touching phones and other devices to share content, contact details or synchronize data. NFC would be used to initiate data transfer over Wi-Fi or another technology.
• Tapping an accessory such as a headset or speakers to establish Bluetooth pairing.
• “Checking-in” to a location for services such as Facebook and Foursquare. NFC could also enable the tagging of friends by touching their devices.
• Selecting applications to be purchased from a wall display in a store.
• Getting applications, vouchers or product details by touching an advertisement.
The boundless diversity of the scenarios enabled by NFC, coupled with the intuitiveness of “touch and go”, means that NFC represents a technological step as significant as the introduction of Wi-Fi. The ease with which NFC can facilitate data transfer means it is likely to play a central role in the pursuit of “convergence”, as it enables the pairing of devices and seamless movement of content from one to another.
Even while the comparison between Android powered Samsung Tab and Apple’s iPad are still doing the rounds of press and blogosphere, Acer delivers the “Touchpad” a completely new Tablet form factor, one with dual screens. The dual touchscreen ICONIA as it is called is powered by the Windows 7 and is extremely close to Microsoft’s dual screen Courier tablet, which has supposedly been shelved by Microsoft.
The ICONIA lends a certain “ccol” factor to the design and has a virtual keyboard to mange tasks.Instead of a start button, it features the “Acer Ring” which will appear “by placing five fingers on the screen and making a grab gesture.” The “touchbook” comes equipped with a bunch of Acer developed applications including the TouchBrowser, TouchPhoto, TouchMusic, TouchVideo each enhanced with the gesture library. Likewise it includes the apps SocialJogger, My Journal and Scrapbook.This beauty is due release in Q1,2011 and can be a serious competition to the single form tablets.
The Pics are enticing enough and for one I am not sure if I should postpone my iPad purchase till Q1, 2011!!!