Unable to maintain its hardware lead in the face of stiff competition from Samsung. Microsoft and the rising tide of Chinese smartphone vendors, Apple will use its much anticipated launch next week to move more strongly into financial services and other application areas.
Apple has not commented – as usual – but reliable reports have emerged that it has signed deals with MasterCard, Visa and American Express to enable the use of the new iPhone as a ‘mobile wallet’, through the use of NFC (near field communications) technology.
New agency Bloomberg reports that Apple has been in discussions with all three credit card giants and that the agreements, and the iPhone 6’s NFC capabilities, will be announced on 9 September, when Apple has invited the press to a major product release. Bloomberg has good sources and an impressive track record on such matters, though as always it refers only to unnamed sources ‘familiar with the situation’.
Apple’s product releases are usually held in San Francisco, 60km to the north of its sprawling Cupertino campus. But this announcement will be held in its hometown’s Flint Center for the Performing Arts. This is the same venue at which Steve Jobs launched the first Macintosh in 1984.
That is more than symbolic. The launch next week looks set to be Apple’s busiest ever – the iPhone 6, the iWatch, the mobile wallet initiative, as well as new releases in health and home automation, which Apple has signalled as major growth areas.
The Flint Center, on the grounds of the local De Anza College, is also a larger venue than San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center, where Apple normally announces new products. Flint holds over 2000 people, three times more than Yerba Buena.
It will be even bigger than that, because Apple is actually constructing its own temporary structure on site (for this information I am grateful to blogger Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, who lives in the area and actually drove over there to have a look). It’s gonna be big.
There have been so many leaks about the iPhone 6 that its larger screens are no longer news. The iWatch too has been thoroughly covered, though it is less certain what its specs will be. But it is likely that the real news will be in software and services – financial (the mobile wallet), home automation (HomeKit) and health (HealthKit).
This will all be enabled by the new iOS 8 operating system. The hardware is just stuff. Apple’s famed ecosystem is about to get a whole lot bigger.