In June we blogged about the possibility that Apple would launch a payments platform. However, with Apple, we’ve come to understand that you don’t often get what you wish for - well, not immediately!

The June 2nd event was never likely to produce a major platform announcement. For those that follow Apple closely, they employ a strict product news / product launch / product update, cycle. 

The June event fell into the latter category. But what about 9.9.14?

Here’s what we know… Apple usually launches iPhones around now. In the last few weeks, the number of ‘leaked’ iPhone photos has increased and the IDK forums have burst back into life. There’s nothing unusual here.

However, we’ve been excited by some teardown pictures, which are doing the rounds. There appears to be an NFC chip residing in the hardware configuration, of Apple’s new phone. This is photo evidence is very interesting and whilst the tech world has long wanted iPhones to ship with NFC onboard, Apple has never stepped up.

Back in 2011, we sat down with senior Apple execs and discussed our first contextual project and we asked about NFC, which we believed would be perfect for our client’s needs. The response we received was negative and the Apple execs explained that NFC wasn’t on Apple’s immediate roadmap. 

It seemed the principal of NFC technology didn’t concern Apple, just its real-world application. The idea of going on a ‘treasure hunt’ to find NFC tags wasn’t very Apple… they wanted technology to fit seamlessly into people’s lives and they couldn’t support anything which promoted a disjointed experience. We agreed (and we didn’t offer our client an NFC solution).

In 2013 Apple got behind BLE beacons and coined the term iBeacon. We’re 19 months on from that announcement and companies like Journification are thrilled to be experimenting with iBeacons. There have been limited hardware rollouts and many apps, which display the principal of contextual messaging but we felt there was a bigger, more significant play unfolding at Apple!

What if iBeacons were just the start of a logical, connected experience and NFC was the end of this process. What if iBeacons welcomed you into a store, guided you to your preferred product and then you purchased it, on the spot, using NFC??? Suddenly Apple could love NFC.

This idea is ok, but as app developers we know that building a payment gateway into apps is costly (for our clients) and time consuming to achieve - pushing budgets to breaking point. This problem mitigates, if Apple owns a payment platform, which bolts on to new apps. Add 1bn credit cards (up from 800m, in June ‘14) linked to iTunes and suddenly NFC does have a place on the iPhone 6 - connecting mobile devices to a fully scalable, payments environment.

Apple is renowned for innovation but mobile phone tech is at a tipping point. Handsets have become so refined, so feature packed and even share similar designs. So, the ‘next big thing’ in handsets, might not be the handset itself - it might be what the handset physically enables us to do.

We aren’t making a predication and we have no insight about what Apple is planning. Like most other people, we’ll be glued to our monitors on 9.9.14 but let’s imagine Tim Cook announces the following:

  • iPhone 6 in two sizes and NFC enabled
  • Full iBeacon support - with a demo of iBeacons and NFC working together (in the big tent, which has been built outside the theatre)
  • A payments platform - involving full support from Visa, MasterCard and Amex 
  • iWallet - the new native payments app on iPhone, optimised for NFC
  • Passbook 2.0 - linking iWallet, to iBeacons and NFC

If Apple deliver close to this, the guys at Journification will be thrilled and we can only imagine how the subsequent client conversations will go!

If Apple doesn’t deliver, we’ll probably be lining up to buy the iWatch on launch day instead…

 

Craig Kinnersley, Journification

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