Somewhere out there in the universe is a more advanced creature who howls with laughter at mere humans and our crazy antics. Despite improved health care, longer live expectancy, better education, and a smaller percentage of earthlings who are dirt poor, humans cannot seem to agree on much of anything these days.
Well, maybe half of us agree on this, but the other half disagrees, so there’s that.
Here’s an example of note. ‘Apple Watch is a failure.’ That’s a meme I’ve read over and over the past year, despite Apple maintaining most of the world’s smartwatch sales, and despite a nearly 95-percent satisfaction rating, and despite selling more Watches than Apple did iPhone or iPods in the early days.
Watch is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise and those who use it, usually love it. I do. Yet, the criticisms remain. Folks, it’s an accessory.
Now, what’s wrong with Apple Pay?
The same tried and true critics of Apple Watch have soured on Apple Pay. Why?
First up, Apple Pay is an incredibly simple and straightforward payment method, whether Watch, iPhone, iPad, or the Mac. That’s especially true when Apple Pay is used at the checkout line. It works at major retailers from Macy’s to McDonald’s, and the number of retail outlets that have Apple Pay built-in has grown substantially in the 18-months or so it’s been available.
Secondly, Apple Pay transactions are fast and very secure. It makes checkouts and purchases quick and painless, and provides a viewable record of the transaction. It’s also more private because retailers only get a transaction and not tracking formation, which increases user privacy.
What’s not to like?
According to those who track such things, actual Apple Pay usage on a per user basis has fallen, despite a few hundred million Apple devices which can use the system, and adoption by retailers seems to have slowed as well.
What’s going on? Why isn’t Apple Pay being used more by those who have it installed, setup, tried it, and like it?
The questions are easy but the answers are not. It’s complicated.
We’re still in the early days of Apple Pay and anyone who expected massive overnight adoption does not understand much about technology, systems, or human beings. It took years for the iPhone and iPod to become hit products. People are creatures of habit so getting us to change our daily procedures and methods remains a challenge not only for Apple, but for retailers.
Change is happening. More change is coming. But expectations that such usage changes– retailers, credit card companies and banks, and customers– will happen within months is the domain of those who, again, have little understanding of how technology is integrated into society, and perhaps less understanding how people change their habits and why it takes so long.
One of my pet peeves about modern life has to do with what I will call fragmentation. Back in the day we received our news from two or three newspapers, two or three TV channels, a couple of magazines, and far too much word of mouth. Today’s societies the world over are fragmented by religion, politics, technology, governments, and it’s getting worse, not better.
Apple’s iPhone is considered the leading example of modern smartphones yet has far less than 20-percent marketshare. Apple Pay has far less adoption that critics expect, but will it ever be as successful as plastic? No. So expectations must be tempered. I use Apple Pay for all the reasons above, but there are times when I could use it but do not, and far too many times when I want to use Apple Pay at a retailer and cannot.
What’s missing, beyond the list of the obvious above, is a more visible incentive. Apple has the wherewithal– financial and customer base- to provide an incentive for customers to use Apple Play more frequently, and definitely needs an incentive to get retailers to adopt Apple Pay to help avoid the problem with ‘chicken and egg‘ syndrome.
Points? Rebates? Credit for iTunes? Whatever Apple comes up with, whether in concert with credit cards and banks, or retailers, needs to be designed to help me decide to use Apple Pay more frequently. Credit card banks do this all the time with mileage and rebates. They are incentives to use a specific car a specific way.
Apple Pay needs the same thing.