TW Commentary: Why Apple Pay makes Mobile Commerce incredibly easy

Apple Pay will be as transformative for payment as Google Maps was for location services. Now anyone with an app can sell things.

What Google did is provide easy access to the best location and map data in a simple, easily integratable way. Without Google Maps, we wouldn’t have companies like Foursquare, Yelp, etc. They all would have needed to build their own mapping infrastructure or rely on a more expensive / less accurate one. With Google they just used the best possible solution, for free. It suited both sides. Google got a lot of data out of this symbiosis and achieved what it always wants: more data. And app developers didn’t have to worry about location data and just build the best possible services around it.

Apple just did the same for payment. By integrating a payment services on the OS level, they basically are taking care of the whole, extremely complex process that is required to authenticate payments. Now any developer out there can just use the Apple Pay API to integrate payment into their own application.

This can have tremendous consequences. One of which should be a very scary proposition for Amazon. The lesson here can be derived from another Ecommerce company: Alibaba. What Alibaba did is offer a way for millions of manufacturers to sell to anyone in China and then the whole world. They offered those manufacturers a way to present themselves and they took care of the infrastructure. Additionally, they managed the trust issue, by keeping the money until the customers received their satisfactory product from the manufacturer / merchant.

Simply put, they created a market where there was none before. There’s huge potential for the same thing happening with the introduction of Apple Pay. Imagine the proposition of building an application as an author of books and just selling your own content, without anyone in between, directly to your clients. Authors with a large enough audience could use this to establish a new source of revenue. Building those kind of applications isn’t expensive anymore. Most of the technology is already made and available as open-source. The hardest part is not reaching the audience, it’s managing the payment process. With Apple Pay this is not an issue anymore.

TW Reads: Wearables

A collection of articles by Ben Hammersley, Ben Evans and others about the bigger ideas around wearable devices.

Whatever kind of device Apple will or will not introduce at their keynote today, we always like to take the opportunity to look beyond the immediate products and specs and think about the longer term implications. Here are some of the smartest reflections on wearables and this emerging category of devices that we have read this year so far.

The Third Wave of Computing

The point isn’t the gadget: it’s the combination of the intimacy of a device that is always with us and that only we use, with the power of cloud-based processing and storage

At the beginning of the year, Ben Hammersley provided a good overview of the current state of wearables including positive and negative future scenarios, Apple rumors, a categorization into introspective (like step counting) and extrospective (like small cameras) and other hints at the discussions around wearables.

Link: Wearables: the third wave of computing

Meet the Godfather of Wearables

It all started with beavers.

Before looking at the future of wearables, it’s always good to learn about their past. 30 years ago, Alex Pentland combined computer- and social sciences to use computers to observe human behaviors. In 1986, he inaugurated the Wearable Computing Project at MIT. It was the “first place dedicated exclusively to the creation of wearables.”

Link: Meet the godfather of wearables | The Verge

How to make Wearables stick

While the functionality of devices may drive initial sales, to create long-term value they have to be used long-term and drive healthy behavior change in users.

We’ve been arguing for a long time that the biggest challenge for companies in the quantified self category is long-term engagement of their customers with their devices. Michael A.M. Davies explains how habit formation, social motivation, and goal reinforcement are key for behavior change and thus continuous motivation. If companies don’t get this right, (introspective) wearables will be mostly know as the electronic waste we all have laying around.

Link: How to make wearables stick: Use them to change human behavior | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Michael A. M. Davies, Endeavour Partners

Cards, Code and Wearables

The company most likely to kill native apps is Apple.

Wearables mostly can’t exist on their own. They need to be tethered to a device, usually a smartphone to connect to the internet. Ben Evans looks at Android Wear and the rumors around Apple’s Healthbook to think about how apps and streams and screens will work together in the near future.

Link: Cards, code and wearables — Benedict Evans

Sensors and Sensitivity

Putting sensors elsewhere, into objects we come into contact with at certain times or in certain situations, contextualizes them — allowing use-cases to be more targeted and, as a result, more purposeful — and potentially more powerful.

With the hype around wearables, we tend to forget that we can put sensors into other objects around us. Natasha Lomas makes the case for these kinds of anti-wearables and gives some examples. Like a car seat that tracks our pulse and stress levels. Using sensors in this way makes for much more focused use-cases that serve specific purposes, instead of just tracking some flippant lifestyle metrics. Maybe we should think more about the objects we can put sensors in instead of all the sensors we can put on.

Link: Sensors And Sensitivity | TechCrunch

What we read this week (22 November)

Our favorite articles of this week. Have a great weekend.

Articles of the week

  • What Screens Want
    Brilliant web essay by Frank Chimero, and not only because he features James Burke and The West Wing. I bet that this one will come up in a lot of conversations in the next months.
  • Prada Revolutionaries
    “Bright Green has become the left's version of right-wing transhumanism: an excuse to not solve today's problems, because tomorrow's technology will fix them for us.”
  • Tom Armitage » Driftwood
    “Driftwood is a talk I gave at Playark 2013. It was meant to be a talk about leftovers (the theme of the conference being ‘reclaim’), and about Hello Lamp Post. In the writing, it turned into a broader overview of my own work – on six years of projects around cities and play.”
  • Meet The ‘Assassination Market’ Creator Who’s Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins – Forbes
    “Assassination Market, a crowdfunding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official–a kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations.”
  • Ross Andersen – Humanity’s deep future
    "When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?"
  • Bitcoin As Protocol | Union Square Ventures
    “There is no other widely used protocol in the world today that accomplishes this: with bitcoin anyone can make a statement (a transaction) and have this be recorded in a globally visible and fixed ledger.”
  • Content economics, part 4: scale | Felix Salmon
    "It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of the CMS when it comes to the question of who’s going to win the online-publishing wars."
  • InMoov » Project
    "Here is “InMoov”, the first life size humanoid robot you can 3D print and animate. You have a 3D printer, some building skills, This project is for you!!"
  • Apple and Google Maps, and Defaults | Matt Mullenweg
    “If Microsoft did this a decade ago we’d call for the DoJ to reopen their investigation. Apple has the best phone, best tablet, and in many ways the best operating system — we should not give them a pass for this blatantly self-interested and user-hostile stance.”
  • Instagram and Youtube — Benedict Evans
    "WhatsApp and Instagram are not in different categories – they're direct competitors for time and attention." – This spot on.

What we read this week (8 Jun)

The cutting edge of innovation, an ifttt for the physical world, using teamwork to manage your work-life balance in hyperconnected times, the story behind tech share prices and emotionally sensitive gadgetry.

Quotes of the week

The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us.

Piotr Czerski

Articles of the week

  • Fast Company: Does Your Phone Know How Happy You Are?
    As phones, TVs, GPSs and assorted other bits of ubiquitous technology become increasingly clever, their abilities approach the threshold of creepiness. Kit Eaton suggests some potential implications and benefits of gadgets that can sense how we’re feeling and act accordingly.
  • Monday Note: Decoding Share Prices: Amazon, Apple and Facebook
    Jean-Louis Gassé gets behind the stock market numbers associated with major tech companies, and explains what the share prices reflect in each company’s strategy and business model. An interesting insight into the financial workings of the tech industry.
  • New York Times: 32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow
    This colorful piece gives an overview of innovative technologies – some easy to imagine, some more adventurous – that could be arriving in the near future. Shirts that can charge your iPod using variations in your body temperature, new coffee, nicer flight conditions. A nice bit of brain fuel.
  • Inc.: How to stop sleeping with your smartphone
    Many of us suffer from a compulsion to check our interwebs constantly, and this can drive us to work when we really shouldn’t be working. This article looks at some research on the matter, and presents a way members of a team could help each other switch off properly.
  • TechCrunch: on{X}: The Coolest Thing to Happen to Android
    We here at Third Wave are big fans of a service called ifttt, or ‘If This Then That.’ It provides an easy interface for connecting various web services to each other – you could, for instance, take all the articles that pop up in your Google Reader feed and save them to Evernote. It’s very helpful that way. So, it comes without surprise that we are also very curious about a new service that Microsoft released for Android: on{x} seems to be very much like ifttt with one key difference: it’s for real life situations. We will be testing it for sure.

What we read this week (10 Feb)

A week that prominently featured outcry over how web services handle our data, a Q&A with Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley and some thoughts on the Death of the Cyberflâneur.

The reason the Web took off is not because it was a magic idea, but because I persuaded everyone to use HTML and HTTP.

Tim Berners-Lee about the social process of trying to get everyone to use the same standards

As the room lit up with projections of Call of Duty footage, Nyan Cat animations and sample-heavy bass, I couldn’t stop thinking that this show was among the signs that “Internet culture” is now just culture.

Anthony Volodkin about a recent Skrillex show

  • RWW: Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley on What He’s Learning From Twitter and What’s Next
    Dennis Crowley speaks about the future of Foursquare and how his service will become more mainstream.
  • The Next Web: Path’s Address Book Mistake Shows an Apple Problem Path has been caught uploading their users’ entire address books to their servers as soon as one installs their app on an iOS device. The outcry was and is big. Rightfully so. Still, there is a larger issue to be discussed here. It’s how we started accepting privacy-related questions in a way that Facebook, Apple and Google want us to see them. Time to demand from the services we use to be transparent upfront about how they intend to use our data.
  • Pinterest is quietly generating revenue by modifying user submitted pins
    Pinterest, while officially still in beta, sees tremendous growth. Now they are even started earning money, which is not objectionable. The way they chose to start monetizing is quite questionable, though: They alter user submitted links to include referral codes, thus collecting affiliate kickbacks – without making that obvious to their users.
  • NYTimes: The Death of the Cyberflâneur
    We share Evgeny Morozov’s opinion on Facebook’s “frictionless sharing.” But services like Tumblr and Twitter make us think that the cyberflâneur is alive and well.
  • Slate: How the hot ad agency fell from grace.
    “I come to bury Crispin, not to praise it.” Slate’s Seth Stevenson, never a fan of the ad-world-darling Crisipin Porter & Bogusky, rips them apart for their work on VW and Burger King, which have dropped CPB in 2010 and 2011.

What we read this week (20 Jan)

In this week’s reads: Facebook wants to get into your car, Nike tracks your heartbeats, Apple’s iBook Author shakes the bookshelves, and William Gibson makes a not-unusual cameo appearance.

Quotes of the week

Metaphors are useful, as they enable the thin skein of connectivity between bodies of thought; yet they are also a leaky mechanism, potentially losing much richness from original concept to translation.

Dan Hill

Is serendipity just the playing out on the human level of the same emerging, patterned self-organization that drives evolution?

Simon G. Powell

Articles of the week

What we read this week (6 Jan)

Lots of great articles this week. Read about a Somali terrorist group’s social media strategy, the internet as a human right (or not), networked science, the way copyright is broken and plenty more.

Quotes of the week

The best way to predict the future is to hang out with some of the outliers already living it. We don’t make ‘predictions,’ but instead tell stories about the people and products that are exciting us before they’ve gone mainstream.

David Rowan

Internet Access Is Not a Human Right.

Vint Cerf

Articles of the week

  • Slate: Twitter of Terror
    A Somali militant group unveils a new social media strategy for terrorists.
  • Duke University: What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012?
    The copyright system is pretty badly broken. Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain shows a few of the cultural works that would have entered the Public Domain – allowing you to reproduce, remix, and share them – under the copyright law in its 1978 version. That is, before copyright was extended from 28 years after publication to last ridiculously long, namely for 70 years after the author’s death. There is a whole treasure trove of culture, locked away and in many cases inaccessible.
  • mobiThinking: Global mobile statistics 2011
    A comprehensive, massive overview of mobile stats for 2011.
  • anideo: Harmony
    Apple’s overall success is being mostly attributed to their superiority in design. While there is no argument about their excellence in this field, it is much more then just the design that leads to such success.
  • The Atlantic: To Know, but Not Understand
    The Berkman Center’s David Weinberger, internet theorist and author of seminal books like The Cluetrain Manifesto and Small Pieces Loosely Joined, tackles a new subject: Big Data, and how to deal with it. This article offers an abstract of Weinberger’s new book.
  • heise online: Sparkassen führen NFC-Payment ein
    (Article in German) It is somewhat of a surprise to see the German Sparkassen Group implement NFC chips into their normal banking cards starting 2012. Nevertheless, we are curious how both consumers and retail will react to it and how the conversation will be shaped by this announcement.
  • The Next Web: Amazon’s e-book tax loophole could mean lower European prices, but that’s bad for UK competition
    Without making much fuss, Luxembourg cut the VAT, and in effect ebook prices for consumers. Ebooks, unlike paper books, are subject to full VAT across the EU. So this could change market dynamics quite a bit: Both Amazon and Apple sell their ebooks from Luxembourg, and might now be able to undercut local book prices. Here’s the German perspective (in German).
  • New York Times: Internet Access is Not a Human Right. As an elder of information technology and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, Vint Cerf says the internet should not be a human right. Sounds outrageous? The point Cerf makes is an excellent one, actually: It’s important not to protect the tool, but rather its empowering qualities. A must read.
  • ReadWriteWeb: Google+ Is Going To Mess Up The Internet
    Jon Mitchell, one of the regular authors at RWW, documents his frustration with Google+. An interesting read with some very well placed arguments. The problem with Google+ right now is that nobody really can figure out what Google wants it to become and as soon people stumble into new insights around it, it becomes all very overdramatized and hectic. Google needs to take charge of the communication around its favorite product. But then again, Google was never good at that.
  • brand eins: Das digitale Urheberrecht steht am Abgrund
    Brand Eins, certainly one of the best business magazines in Germany, inquires into the way copyright works – or fails to work – in a digital context. It’s a long, in-depth interview in German. Well worth reading.
  • Clay Shirky: Newspapers, Paywalls and Core Users
    Newspapers have been experimenting with paid vs free content for a number of years, sometimes more, often less successfully. Clay Shirky thinks that 2012 might be the year where newspaper economics could start working out. That is, they might work out once newspapers stop treating all news as a product and all readers as customers.
  • GigaOM: You are what you curate: Why Pinterest is hawt
    A nice overview of a trend that’s been surging for awhile now, and is still gathering steam: Online content curation. Focusing on Pinterest, GigaOM explains why curation services are so successful and why we can expect a wave of services that make curation even more streamlined and structured.
  • CNN: Digital music sales top physical sales
    Digital music purchases accounted for 50.3% of music sales in 2011. That’s a first, and proves beyond any doubt that consumers are willing to pay for online content, and that the CD won’t be missed for long. Now the big question is: Will we see music purchases rise further, or see on demand streaming take over? In other words, is it ownership or access to music that consumers are willing to pay for?
  • Forbes: The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives
    Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of management, did intensive research on some of the biggest corporate fails in recent history (Enron, Tyco, WorldCom etc.). Some years ago, he published the 7 habits that the senior executives at these companies all had in common. Eric Jackson has revisited them for Forbes. Recommended reading for anyone in executive positions.
  • Do Designers Actually Exploit The Poor While Trying To Do Good?
    A very interesting discussion with Jan Chipchase about design research and the work of big corporations in third world countries.