Last week Apple announced a slew of new products including new MacBook portables, iOS 6 and a look at the newest desktop os, Mountain Lion. I think the most important thing they announced, however, was the Passbook feature in iOS6.
Passbook collects all of your loyalty and rewards cards and puts them into one slick interface. Cards can be updated with new balances or offers. In addition, other types of tickets will be supported in Passbook like movie and airline tickets. You purchase a movie ticket and an electronic version of the ticket sits right in Passbook. The software is even location aware so when you arrive at the movie theatre, the ticket automatically pops out of Passport. This is really cool technology but more than that I think it’s going to change commerce. For years it’s been a dream to pay for things with a cell phone. It hasn’t quite played out yet, but I think Passbook will change that. Each card has a barcode which can be scanned to pay for an item and debited to your balance.
It was always thought that NFC or near field communications technology would be the key to mobile payments but so far there are very few phones with NFC and fewer merchants that support it. NFC in a phone also has drawbacks like adding expense and sucking battery life. Apple could easily adopt Passbook for NFC if it wanted, but it’s showing something here that may obsolete NFC before it even gets off the ground. Google has had it’s Google Wallet technology for nearly a year now, but as with too many things Google, it was half baked and has gone nowhere.
Apple, once again shows how good it is at focusing on real world solutions that improve the lives of it’s customers. They don’t use technology for technologies sake like so many others but truly look for ways to translate the technology into products real people want to use. This is one of the reasons why Apple is so successful where others falter. I have a ton of loyalty cards myself and can’t wait to get them all organized in Passbook.