Apple does a lot of things well but is far from perfect. Yet, somehow, every time Apple announces a product, the media takes it and blows its usefulness out of proportion. The media perception of Apple products quickly trickles down into the minds of your average consumer. The very same consumers that don’t know the difference between RAM or ROM. Those consumers start to believe that only Apple could achieve this and it must have never been done before.
Sure, Apple comes out with some great technology from time to time but I didn’t come here to talk about that. I came here to highlight some facts regarding Apple Pay, Google Wallet and NFC in general. For those of you who don’t know, NFC stands for Near Field Communication. To sum NFC up, just picture two microchips talking to each other only if they are within shouting distance. NFC has been out for years. In fact, the first Android phone that launched with NFC was the Nexus S that launched back in 2010. A year later, in 2011, Google launched Google Wallet.
Apple Pay and Google Wallet
To add some context for those of you who only know about Apple Pay, Google Wallet does the same thing. The main difference is that Apple Pay uses Touch ID (for those devices that support it) and Google Wallet uses a pin. Both can work by making payments at a terminal that accepts NFC based payments.
Now I’m not annoyed that Apple is finally deciding to put 2011 technology into their phones for the first time in 2014. What’s eating at me are the articles and comments filled with baseless and misplaced praise for Apple Pay and hate for Google Wallet. The majority tone I’ve seen as I’ve read various opinions on the whole Apple Pay vs Google Wallet swings to the tune of Apple becoming the reason why stores will now include more NFC readers or that Google Wallet is dead and Apple Pay will succeed where Google hasn’t because Apple’s implementation is better.
Mind you, this is the tone that was taking both before and after Apple Pay’s launch. I’m not sure how these assertions can be made when it’s only been out for three days. I’m finding these opinions to be very annoying because they are simply inaccurate. Let’s deal with these fallacies one by one.
Fallacy #1: Apple Will Lead The Way to NFC Adoption
Wrong. Apple isn’t leading and won’t lead the way to more NFC adoption. In fact, everyone has it backwards; it’s NFC adoption that has lead to Apple putting NFC chips in their devices. First and foremost, when Google Wallet launched back in 2011, it launched with 300,000 locations that supported it. I’m personally not sure if that’s a lot or not but while you figure that out for yourself, take into consideration that Apple launched Apple Pay with 220,000 locations that support Apple Pay in 2014.
The reason why Apple was able to launch with so many locations isn’t the result of Apple’s hard work. It’s the result of all the other manufactures like Google and others that have been pushing for NFC adoption for years now. I can admit that Apple never claimed that this was all their effort. It’s the media that’s been blowing Apple’s efforts out of proportion.
An Example of an EMV NFC Card Reader
There’s another reason beyond those who have supported NFC long before Apple. That reason is because of the law. Starting October 2015, all credit and debit card readers used by merchants will need to support EMV. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa which is a global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards. EMV will influence more NFC readers as they go hand-in-hand. A fact that’s well known by a majority of people in Canada and the UK where both Apple Pay and Google Wallet are not currently available. The bill was passed earlier this in 2014.
The main point here is that credit should be given to those who deserve it. Apple has done absolutely nothing to advance NFC while it was in its infancy the way Google and others have. We should also look at Apple Pay as Apple’s way of complying with government laws. After all, Apple needed to make their 267 US based stores comply with EMV law. Wouldn’t it suck if Apple had NFC readers and their own devices didn’t support them? It sure would.
Fallacy #2: Google Wallet is Dead and Everyone Will Use Apple Pay
This one is a bit more subjective. In order to consider Google Wallet dead (or alive for that matter) we have to decide on how we measure if something is alive or dead. There’s currently only two ways to go about this:
1. We measure NFC adoption by retailers
2. We measure NFC usage by platform
Measuring NFC Usage by Platform
Google Wallet Usage Statistics 2014
The obvious problem? Apple pay came out just 3 days ago. There’s no way to determine exactly how many people will use it. Due to how tucked away Apple Pay is in the Passport app, my assumption is that only the tech savvy users who read and stay up on Apple based news will be curious to use it. Even less will use it once that curiosity factor dies down. There’s simply not enough data to determine how widespread Apple Pay’s usage will be.
On the other hand, I’ve got some numbers here relating to Google Wallet. According to a survy done by Thrive Analytics that was based on a representative panel of 2,000+ U.S. consumers, matching the demographic profile of the U.S. adult population, 40 percent of those surveyed said they used Google Wallet. If that percentage accurately describes the United States population i terms of usage, I would no way consider Google Wallet dead. No, I wouldn’t say it’s thriving, either.
Measuring NFC adoption by retailers
Places that take both Apple Pay and Google Wallet
This shouldn’t be a fallacy, guys. Common sense says that if Apple pay gains success from retailers then so will Google Wallet. Why? Because Apple Pay and Google Wallet both use the same technology that retailers are implementing. If people are making the argument that Google Wallet is dead because more retailers are supporting and working with Apple for Apple Pay and not Google and Google Wallet, kindly point them to this article. Let’s give those without technologically knowledge the knowledge they need to carry out sophisticated tech discussions.
Something else worth pointing out is that if you think Google Wallet is dead while looking at NFC adoption, then Apple Pay is also dead. If you think Apple Pay is doing well in terms of forcing NFC adoption on more retailers (which we already discussed is a fallacy) then Google Wallet is also doing well.
Moral of the story: let’s just give credit where credit is due and embrace what competition and laws that push technology forward.