Apple refuses to be rushed when it comes to NFC technology and mobile payment systems on smartphones.
While other manufacturers are making bold steps in the market, Apple has opted instead for a “go-slow” approach.
According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s plan is to hold back while others venture forth. This is as a result of “deep discussions” that took place last year, where ideas for entering the mobile payments arena were aired but then dropped in favour of the Passbook app.
The Passbook app was revealed alongside other iOS 6 features including Facebook integration and 3D maps, during WWDC last month. And it is deliberately not a bold statement, coming without the option to store credit card information and on a handset that is thought to lack NFC support. Instead, Passbook will simply store digital versions of loyalty cards, tickets, vouchers and so on.
While others are “all fighting over their piece of the pie”, with regard to mobile payments, “we aren’t doing that”, explains Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice-president of worldwide marketing.
However, sources reveal that iPhone software boss Scott Forstall was keen on introducing a comprehensive “wallet app” as early as last year but the idea was dropped as it was deemed too complex – and the Passbook app was selected instead. Apparently, Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer was concerned about information security while Schiller had concerns over whether poor customer service from merchants would reflect badly on Apple.
So a watch-and-learn approach is thought to be Apple’s strategy instead. As Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster states: “Apple is always a comfortable number two. They let their competitors do their market research for them”.
The one thing that could spur Apple on sooner, though, is the expected growth for the mobile payments market – research firm Gartner predicts the sector to grow from $172 billion worldwide this year to $600 billion by 2016.
Watch this space to see what Apple’s next move is, as there’s a chance the Passbook app will be enhanced before it lands alongside the iPhone 5 in the autumn.