I was reading this article today on Daring Fireball about Apple Pay and was wondering if Apple might have made a mistake by branding the service “Apple Pay.” Or, “Pay.” The technology by which you can use your phone as a proxy for your credit card is, as I understand it, a system that’s handled by the store and your bank, and isn’t any different whether you’re using Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, etc. They’re all names for the same thing.
I wonder if, instead of calling the service “Apple Pay,” Apple should have worked with other mobile vendors to come up with a more generic name, like “Mobile Pay.” A lot of customers don’t know what mobile payments are, and I have a hunch that having it co-branded with their phone gives them the idea that they’re being asked to sign up for a company scrip or something, the way old mining companies would pay you in their own currency that was only good at the company store, or Disney Dollars that could only be spent at the theme park. In reality, aside from your Apple-made computer being used to conduct the transaction, everything about Apple Pay is entirely between the store and the bank. Apple says it never sees the details of your purchase, but I suspect a lot of the people who haven’t signed up for Apple Pay think the service involves you using Apple as a middle man: you pay Apple through your iTunes account or whatever and then it pays the vendor.
When Apple adopted wi-fi it branded its wireless system as “AirPort,” meaning both the physical AirPort wi-fi base stations it was selling but also the wifi capabilities in its computers. After a few years Apple backed off from this and now uses “wi-fi” where appropriate in iOS and Mac OS. Having a branded version of a generic protocol creates confusion. My Mac has AirPort. Will it work on wi-fi?
Compare to wireless charging, which Apple very clearly didn’t try to brand at all. Most any wireless charging doodad you buy will work with new iPhones. How Apple will handle its upcoming AirPower charger, which will support Qi charging but have extra features as well, remains to be seen. It’s done a fair job with the AirPods, which are standard Bluetooth headphones that happen to pair more easily with Apple devices due to its additions to the spec.