Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NFC: Apple deliberately drags feet

Apple has set foot in an area where it is long overdue: the contact less payment. The presentation of this application may suggest that Apple will go further with the successor of 4S who could manage the NFC. At least that's what you might think on the surface. In mid-June, Phil Schiller had somehow given dot the i. 

Apple does not try at least for the moment to make a payment directly. Schiller also noted that the different mobile payment services were fighting like cats and dogs for their share of the pie. And to say that Apple was not involved in this fight.

In a new article on the issue, the Wall Street Journal back "on the lack of ambition" Apple versus Microsoft and Google, which came on the same level in this war. Arrive after the battle, this seems to be a deliberate strategy of Apple in this case. It was adopted last year, following internal discussions and to the chagrin of some engineers who want Apple goes into this niche quickly. With 400 million credit cards stored in the iTunes Store, Apple has, indeed, a playing card.

Apple's strategy is not in itself surprising. Even if the Cupertino company has revolutionized many industries, it is rarely arrived first on the market. The analyst Gene Munster sums up the matter: "They leave their competitors do their market research for them." When this track was discussed internally last year, two options were frequently mentioned: the first was that Apple is launching a new service that integrates the various existing means of payment. The second option, more ambitious, was that Apple put up its own payment network.

Among the scenarios, Apple has thought about the idea that during a transaction, it is she who pays the money directly to the merchant. Attractive on paper, this solution is very difficult to implement. Would require that the Cupertino company is in the bank (read: And if Apple was embarking on the bank). The challenge for Apple is to find the right model. The Californian has considered the possibility of an alliance with key players in this industry and punctures a small commission for each transaction.

The idea of designing Passbook arose during these discussions. To force the problem back in all directions, Apple has finally again - temporarily - his ambitions downwards. Apple has not addressed this issue only in terms of software and services; the division of the iPhone hardware is also considered the different ways to make contactless payments. If we talk frequently the NFC, Apple also has the ability to complete such transactions using a Bluetooth connection. Two points seem particularly worried about the NFC engineers: the level of security offered by this technology and its impact on autonomy. The use of NFC requires a dedicated chip and an additional antenna.

Proof that this issue is taken very seriously at Apple, even its chief financial officer brought his two cents. Peter Oppenheimer, has asked the engineers to see if there was not a technology - safer - that would pass through the Internet to replace the NFC. For his part, Phil Schiller fears that Apple pays the piper if a user fee with this system has a bad experience with a merchant. As in the field of television, we'll have to Apple, and more generally to other high-tech giants, finding the right formula if they want to impose on the market of contactless payment. But the game is worth it ...

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