Apple’s big day. More than meets the eye.


New larger phones, a first stab at wearables … and a payment ecosystem.

It seems the world focussed on the big £700 smartphone, and therefore Apple’s share value slid but the really big news is a brand new payment ecosystem.

Blah blah blah big phone, blah blah £700, blah blah 4 years late. Who cares? The capability of the current range of iPhones far exceeds the needs of 99% people anyway. Expensive new phones allow Apple to drop the price, and make more money from the 5S and 5C due to economies of scale.

So, if the iPhone 6 Plus is a now a halo phone, what was the big news yesterday. Was it the new Watch? Nope, it’s interesting but at £300 it costs too much to be disruptive. And it will have a crap battery life.

The huge news

A brand-new payment ecosystem – this is really big. The world and his dog are trying to get a cut of emerging payment and currency systems (witness Amazon Coins, BitCoin and a newly aggressive PayPal).

Buying stuff online is what we do, and mobile devices are rapidly becoming the keystone. And VISA/MasterCard/AMEX have had it all their own way since the 1980s. Clearly its time for a change and the weight that Apple throw around suggests this might just catch on.

Delivered beautifully simply, and via a trusted and secure technology such as NFC is simply genius. We kind of moved into a cashless society in the mid-noughties but still needed to carry cards. This is a pain.

In my card-only wallet (stuck to the back of my phone, thanks to Distill Union) still has to carry my debit & credit card and, until recently, an Oyster card (I’m now part of the trial to use debit cards on public transport so one less card).

NFC in my phone could mean carrying no cards or travel passes. Fabtastic – but an enormous gamble for Apple as they have, in one stroke stepped centre stage in the electronic commerce space.

This could/should/might be a game changer. Two companies I’d be watching are Amazon and eBay. Amazon have the commerce infrastructure (, payments (Amazon Coin) and a mobile device (Fire).

eBay own PayPal, the only real payment system to disrupt the banks and big boys in the last 20 years. They also have a commerce platform but no hardware. But do they need it? Probably not, they’ll be able to exist on top of other platforms.

And what about Android?

It’s looking a little niche these days, and geeky. No doubt the absolute technical specifications are superior but the experience is second rate and hasn’t extended well outside it’s two niche spaces of cheap phones and the anti-Apple brigade.

Cheap phones are now 2 a penny (sic) and the race to the bottom is hardly likely to drive product innovation outside of cost-of-manufacture.

We do need Android, to compete against iOS and Fire OS, but the irony is the open source approach is hurting the product. Google (and others) are addressing this by “forking” Android into proprietary versions and assembling complementary (and closed) eco-systems to try and provide a better experience.