Is the Apple vs Google payments battle a smokescreen?

Written by on June 17, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

horsmanIt is tempting to think of the payments arena as a war zone, as giants Apple and Google ‘fight it out.’ And certainly there is a major struggle for market share of the mobile payments arena. At stake is the whole payments experience, which ends with a simple, secure and satisfying ‘click.’

Certainly Apple, Google, Samsung and others will need to ensure their various open or closed systems are all available and/or interoperable, so that customers do not have to consciously choose and are able to simply pay with whatever device they carry with them. If they get that wrong, then customers will potentially be confused and frustrated.

The approaches of the two titans is completely different. Google has gone for the completely open approach, while Apple…..

But wait…

Is Google trying to outflank Apple? If you ignore devices, then this game is about operating systems. Apple understands devices but not operating systems (although it has a very very good one). Google is the opposite. A long time ago (this seems almost ‘alternative universe’ now) Apple nearly went bust rebutting an approach from Microsoft to have Apple’s operating system in PCs.

Google, of course, has started a pro-active campaign to play down the importance of operating systems, saying that customers do not choose devices on the operating system but on the device and the services it opens up for the customer. This is true.

And yet, there are a number of quiet announcements coming out about the Android operating system – which is already in 80 percent of devices.

  • Blackberry is ‘considering’ putting Android into its phones.
  • Sony TV will run Android. So will Sharp and Philips.
  • Volkswagen, Hyundai and General Motors will be running Android.
  • Tag Heuer, the watch maker is working with Google.
  • Wearables will probably run Android to the same extent that other ‘devices’ do, i.e 80 percent.

Now Google is launching Project Brillo, which provides a portfolio of home based services that do not need a phone to talk to each other. It is essentially an operating system for the home.

And therein might lie the long-term strategy. While Apple wants you to use, drive and wear Apple devices (they, too, are targeting home and wearables), Google will be powering the rest of the eco-system – and providing the connectivity as well.

If they achieve that – by looking far beyond the ‘phone’ as the device – then we may all run on Android in a few years’ time. Apart from a loyal few who will be sitting in Apple towers, using a series of Apple devices that are very cool indeed. As long as you can get hold of them.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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