Week in Review: This Is Apple Fiction, Not Science Fiction… Are You a Believer?

I am substituting for Patrick Rivenbark this week, so I’m feeling some pressure. He has set a high bar for this feature (Sunday review)!

So, here we are again in September: another big announcement from Cupertino, the gasps and the glory, the fans and the fury – nothing new really, except for more Apple Fiction!

There, I said it!

Well, at least it’s not totally fiction, but it has the same attributes as Science Fiction: It’s all about the future and changing the world for the better, just not today. They are only promising and showcasing innovation, not necessarily affecting it. On a positive note, both have a human aspirational orientation rather than attempting to push technology for technology's sake.

Whether Science Fiction or Apple Fiction, first you have to believe. Some will, many won’t; yet, all will be awed –just as with Face ID, which Apple’s techno-marketing machine rolled out this past week with much aplomb.

So far so good, but the problem with being blinded by the machine is that we forget to ask some questions: Yeah it’s all cool stuff – Tap-n-Pay, Touch ID, Face ID – but so what? What difference does it make in the grand scheme of things? Is this innovation-at-scale that will fundamentally make a difference by making things better, faster & cheaper? Will enough people use it in the near future to impact the value chain and make it more efficient and effective in providing consumers a better experience, in this case for payments, and more broadly secure authentication?

And if most of the answers to most of such questions are in the negative, then regardless of whether something is cutting-edge or not, awesome or not, appreciated by the believers or not, is it real innovation until it is impactful? Is there an opportunity cost to such investment in technology-for-the-1%-who-can-afford-to-pay-$1000-to-indulge-in-narcissism rather than technology-for-the-99%-who-will-adopt-it-to-realize-the-efficiency-gains-that-the-industry-seeks?

The bad news is that we don’t have all the answers to these questions, but the good news is that we have a vibrant ecosystem, led by FinTech, elevated by TechFin, and now covered by mainstream media with at least as much excitement as dissecting Trump’s latest tweetstorm.

Here’s some food for thought from two illustrative pieces of Apple Pay/Face ID coverage this past week:

Face ID is an improvement on Touch ID as well as facial recognition systems from other mobile handset companies, but it’s still early days.

...the very notion of using your face as the key to your digital secrets presents some fundamental problems... And Apple seems to have acknowledged that its biometrics aren't an infallible solution.

Read more from WIRED

Support for everyday payment experiences in the world’s largest market will go a long way towards adoption at scale for Apple Pay.

China is home to one of the world’s largest iOS user communities, as well as the world’s largest rideshare market. Today, Didi app accepts international credit cards, Union Pay, CMB OneNet, and WeChat and Alipay, plus Apple Pay...

Read more from TechNode

Finally, we have covered Apple Pay extensively on LTP over the past few years, objectively as always. Here’s a piece from our own in-house Apple fanboy Amit Goel from 2014: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly about Apple Pay