Apple’s agenda should scare you
Last week, Apple held their 2016 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Like always, it was a smorgasbord of updates to operating systems and apps, developer fandom, and hooplah over Siri’s special powers (now she’ll work across devices!).
Cue the applause.
However, I had this weird problem when I went to stream the keynote. You see, Google Chrome was blocked from being able to watch the event. The website told me I needed to be in the Safari browser on a Mac or iOS device (i.e., iPhone or iPad).
I thought nothing of it at the time; except, “Well, this is inconvenient.” But really, why should I care? I simply switched to Safari and then streamed every remaining second of it. My mind spit out whatever I was doing beforehand in favor of all things Apple. I was jacked in.
But in that moment — that blip of inconvenience due to Apple’s desire to withhold information from any Android or PC user, something distasteful festered. My head kept picking at it like a stubborn cuticle. It felt uncomfortable to be forced to switch. Why should I need to? There’s something arrogant about it. Apple was a pioneer in technology; surely, they knew how to present the keynote address across multiple browsers, right? The intentionality felt hostile — a confrontation to openness in the Internet Age.
The cost of being a user
Many people have talked about Apple as a “walled garden.” What they’re implying is that the company is protective of their devices, operating system functions, and who can play in the iOS world. For developers and consumers, the effects have pros and cons. Apple’s devices are more secure, but they’re also more expensive.
You’ve got to pay up to belong, but membership has its… privileges. The devices are beautiful and the operating system is solid. But paying up – in more ways than one — is quickly becoming Apple’s specialty. For starters, their devices have some of the largest margins in the industry. As most of the hardware industry has dwindled, Apple’s pushed on to become one of the largest companies in the world.
Now, their financial acumen goes beyond the machines they manufacture. About two years ago, the company made moves into the financial industry with Apple Pay. It used to be limited to restaurants, groceries, gas stations, and other retailers that accept plastic credit cards. Those retailers employed Near-Field Communication (NFC) devices that could then accept iPhones and Watches via Apple Pay. Users could rid their wallet of the extra plastic in the process. How easy!
You’ll pay for updates to Apple Pay
This year’s WWDC contained a little nod to Apple Pay in the form of a button that could be placed on websites that accept credit transactions. They dubbed it, “Apple Pay on the Web.” This new button would take the place of filling out forms and spending countless hours of your life punching in 16-digit numbers, expiration dates, CVV codes, full names, addresses, phone numbers, your blood type, your cousin’s maiden name, and your favorite fruit.
Apple’s making a value proposition. Essentially, they’re saying, “We know you value your time. That’s why we’ve created an ingenious solution that’ll solve the hassle and time it takes to shop online.”
Behind this “solution” is a masterclass in consumption. First, Apple Pay will only work with Macs; at least, to start. You’ll need a Mac running Safari. As always, Apple’s computers have a large profit margin built in. That means you’re paying a hefty amount over comparable systems just to pay for things online (are we noticing a consumption loop here?).
Second, Apple is pairing Apple Pay on the Web with iPhones. That phone is going to cost you, as well. Heck, a new iPhone costs about $700 off contract. The phone will be used to “confirm” transactions — press your thumb (or any other digit of your choosing) to your TouchID sensor. Et voila! You’ve purchased… something.
Third, all this “innovation” is to help you consume, to pay more, to think less, to spend more time mashing your thumb against a sensor. It’s made for businesses more than consumers. And while it’s awesome to have autofill forms, instant transactions, and secure payments, shouldn’t we weigh the potential costs of this so-called progress?
Reduced friction = increased spend
The convenience of online retailers contains a risk for some spenders: reduced friction. Friction occurs when you rub your hands together — feel that heat? Friction is the reason I’m burning so much gas in my car, too. Just read the company’s description about Apple Pay:
Customers love the simplicity of Apple Pay, and you’ll love the increased conversion rates and new user adoption that come with it.
Apple Pay for the Web will reduce time spent critically making important decisions that directly affect your wallet. Will you spend or save today? Even more, the method continues to encourage the Apple-everything mindset in the face of lofty price points. They’ve created a system to reduce friction for a small subset of the population — those that can pay up to have at least two Apple-branded products at all times.
Today, I see a modality that shouldn’t be encouraged. For Apple, by Apple. They’re creating a world where nobody else can play; unless, you’re an Apple owner, then you’ll pay.