Apple dropped a (time-)bomb this week at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference with the announcement of their new Passbook app. Set to be released this fall, the new app will soon be as Apple describes “the simplest way to get all your passes in one place.” Users can store their boarding passes, store cards and movie tickets all together, making them more accessible.
During the WWDC keynote (see video below) Apple demonstrated how a United boarding pass, a Starbucks card, and a Fandango ticket all live together in the sleek new interface. The cards utilize barcodes which can be scanned in order to redeem the ticket, coupon or loyalty reward. Passbook can be accessed via API, giving any developer the ability to create passes for the app. The app is also deeply integrated into the OS, with geofencing features such as lockscreen notifications which pop up when the device senses you’re near a relevant location. Check out the video to see Apple’s Passbook in action (starts at 11:10):
Passbook has been painted as a platform for loyalty cards and ticketing, but we’re curious as to what else is on the way? Is this the first step towards creating a full-out mobile payment solution? We suspect that Passbook will likely become a proper wallet with credit cards and loyalty cards and not only tickets and passes, but only time will tell.
While at first sight such a full-fledged Passbook wallet seems to make other apps like Square or Lemon obsolete, it’s important to remember that different wallets add different unique value for their users. For instance Lemon’s “Smarter Wallet” provides personal finance tools to their users, delivering much more value than simply holding credit cards. In the same way Square is delivering unique value by providing geofencing features for payment along with additional security features.
In spite of these arguments, it’s clear that companies like Square, Lemon or many smaller players who’ve spent a lot of resources developing their own wallets may feels challenged or even somewhat betrayed by Apple’s decision to release Passbook. It remains to be seen to what extent these players will be forced to integrate with the Passbook model (and give up some control over their users), or if they will compete and keep building out their own wallets. At any rate, it won´t be easy for Apple to provide the same type of value as dedicated wallet apps that focus on one or two uses cases alone. Nevertheless, We’re excited to test it out alongside all the other new features coming out with iOS6 this fall!
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