Apple Makes Big Change

This week Apple introduced a new feature for the iPhone in its Apple Store app. The feature, called EasyPay, it  allows people to take a picture of the bar code of a product with the phone’s camera and then buy the product on the spot, using your iTunes account.

Previously, the app could be used to research products and order them, but the products had to be picked up from an employee in the store. Now, use of iTunes as a traveling wallet is modest; you can use it to buy the cheaper accessories in an Apple store. The phone’s location tracker has to be on, too, so Apple can verify that you are in one of its stores. The effectiveness of the product is impressive, I tried one out at the Apple Store in San Francisco and it worked flawlessly after a couple of setup steps. It works the sales tax into the final price after you scan the code, then offers a one-button purchase. The credit card associated with an iTunes account, normally used for buying music, is charged.

An Apple store clerk assured me that Apple would “never, never, never, ever” use the product for big ticket purchases, like computers, as these are expensive items that Apple doesn’t want customers walking off with.

That shouldn’t make Google feel a lot better. In May, Google announced its payment system, Google Wallet, with support from MasterCard, among others. In September, the service became available on a Nexus phone, available through Sprint. The advantage of Google Wallet is supposed to be near field communications technology, or N.F.C., which enables payment by tapping the phone onto specially equipped readers at checkout counters. In videosshowing  the service, people make low-price purchases, as they can with the Apple app.But with one app, Apple has started to move on Google’s payments plan, with potential distribution far greater than anything Sprint will be able to do with Nexus. Google had a very tight-lipped “no comment” on Apple’s move.

This change will be very interesting to see where it goes. And how it might affect retail checkout in the future.

Q: Do you think this change is good? Will it work? (Leave in comments)





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