Even Apple Isn’t Right All of the Time
By J. Allen Leinberger
Apple has always been an innovator—a game changer. You may remember the Bondi Blue iMac, the original iPod (which was introduced a month after 9-11), the flat screen, the iPhone and the iPad.
None were original. None are exclusive. But all have defined the products of the 21st century. There are other tablets and other smartphones, but Apple defines them like Xerox defines copiers or Kleenex defines tissues.
Thus it was that Apple assumed its new Apple Pay would lead the nation into the paperless marketplace that we have been promised by futurists for years. And in the last week of October we thought we were there.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express had approved the use of their cards as credit forms for the new iPhone 6. All you had to do was flash your phone in front of the meter and your card was charged for your purchase. On top of that over 30 retailers had OK'ed the system for their stores.
But almost immediately the wheels fell off of the wagon. Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite-Aid and Best Buy, among others, changed their minds and decided not to go with the Apple Pay program.
Why? Well, their story is that they were afraid that people with other phones, like the Droids, would not shop with them. I’m just guessing here but I am pretty sure that the Apple Pay system or something similar, would have allowed compromise. After all, MP3 music plays on all MP3 players, not just iPods.
Now we find out the stores had a more ulterior motive. Apple’s system does not provide enough customer information. Apparently when you swipe your credit card, the store gets a free profile of who you are, where you live and how you shop.
Imagine. We worry when some Russian teenagers crack the system at our favorite discount store and get our info. But we never thought that the store itself was tracking us. Complaining that they want more information tells me that we could really mess them up if we only spent cash from now through Christmas.
How does Apple feel about all of this? “Our team has worked incredibly hard to make Apple Pay private and secure, with the simplicity of a single touch of your finger,” answered Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. It looks like they made the system too good for the retailers needs. Shame on Apple for making our private info private.
Meanwhile Apple has tried to do another good deed for its consumers by providing, for free, the newest album from the pop band U2. How about that! Free music! Well that backfired too. It turns out not everybody likes U2. (I don’t.) And many people want the right to decide just who gets to take up their hard drive space on their phones, iPods and computers. They might have done better with the new Beyoncé or Taylor Swift albums. Apple finally came out with directions for deleting the U2 album from iTunes libraries.
But Apple has what they still consider good news. They have introduced iPad Air 2, the thinnest and most powerful iPad ever. The new iPad features an improved Retina Display for enhanced contrast and richer, more vibrant colors, and better cameras for taking stunning photos and videos. (Those adjectives are theirs.) iPad Air 2 and the new iPad mini 3 also offer something that this column predicted about two years ago. Touch ID. iPad is a magical piece of glass, they continue, that runs more than 675,000 apps specifically designed for it. (Remember back in the 90s when people didn’t use Apple because it didn’t run enough programs?)
“And the new iPad Air 2 is packed with amazing new innovations, weighs less than a pound, and at just 6.1mm is the thinnest tablet in the world,” according to Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. He continues, “iPad Air 2 has a new Retina Display with anti-reflective coating, second generation 64-bit A8X chip, all-new iSight and Face Time HD cameras, faster Wi-Fi and LTE wireless, and includes the revolutionary Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor.”
There are critics that have worried about someone getting their fingerprints in order to access their computer. It strikes me that washing your hands and wiping your screen regularly can go a long way to protect your info, and keep you hygienic at the same time.
Remember Lincoln’s line about fooling all of the people some of the time? It would begin to look as if it is also true that you can please all of the consumers some of the time and some of the consumers all of the time, but even Apple can’t please everybody all of the time.