How and why does Apple get paid for Apple Pay? Anders and Horace dive into the payments value chain and break it all down for you: whats in it for users, merchants, issuing banks and payment networks. What are the risks and opportunities for Apple? Is there a disruption about to happen?
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When the iPhone launched, Steve Jobs introduced it as being three products in one:
- A wide-screen iPod
- A phone
- A breakthrough internet communicator
When the Apple Watch launched, Tim Cook introduced it as being three things:
- A precise timepiece
- A new, intimate way to communicate
- A comprehensive health and fitness device.
In 2011 I wrote:
My hypothesis is that The Primary Cause for the shift of profits from Incumbents to Entrants has been the disruptive impact of a new input method.
It was a description of what I considered to be the “disruptive technology” which caused incumbents which had a “front-row seat” to the future of their industry to be completely displaced and marginalized by an entrant with no discernible right to do what they did.
I illustrated what underpinned the sea change in the phone business via the slide that Steve Jobs used in the iPhone launch event:
I added the years when each input method was introduced and the platform/ecosystems created as a result. These new ecosystems were the primary cause for dramatic industry-sized shifts in profits.
Not coincidentally, during the 2014 Apple Watch launch, the presentation began with a re-telling of the “mouse, click wheel and Multi-Touch” story.
Seven years later, the difference is that there is a new object added to the story. It answers the question that has been on my mind since that first post on revolutionary user interfaces was written: what will come next.
Now that we have an answer, the next step is to understand the new platform, its ecosystem; which industry will be affected and which incumbents will be displaced and to what degree will value be created beyond that which will be displaced.
Piece of cake.Notes:
Farshad Nayeri, Anders Brownworth and I discuss Apple Watch as I drive from the launch venue to the airport.
Anders Brownworth and Horace Preview of Apples September 2014 special event. We focus on how Apparel gets disrupted. We also wrap the Creativity, Inc. book review.
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Dash just added Gmail widgets yesterday, and they’re already one of the more popular widgets on the site. By default they show your inbox, but you can also set them up with Gmail search phrases like “label:apple”. You can even combine search terms to produce results like “all email received in the last 12 hours containing the phrase ‘scoop’ and an attachment.”
The bank robber Willie Sutton did not say, when asked why he robbed banks, “because that’s where the money is.” He did agree with the idea however saying “Go where the money is…and go there often”.
Regardless of it being apocryphal, this idea came to be called Sutton’s Law and is often taught to medical students. It’s similar to the notion of Occam’s Razor: when an obvious or simple answer competes with an obscure or complicated answer, pick the obvious one first.
These are sound analytical rules of thumb. When thinking about what products and services could arise in the immediate future, those most obvious and with fewest assumptions should be put forward first. The what part is relatively easy. The tough question is more about when will they emerge?
We now know that Apple will announce new products on September 9th. This gives us an idea of when something will happen, answering the tougher question. It leaves the simpler question of what will emerge.
I put forward my predictions as follows:
- Regarding iPhone, a tweet on product mix and pricing.
- Regarding an “iWatch”, an answer to a question from Eric Jackson.
- Regarding the potential for wearables, a post on the subject.
One more item has surfaced on the potential of payments processing which I want to address now.
Handling payments, to me, is a perfectly plausible activity for Apple mostly because the company has made quite a few comments on the value of their “customers with credit cards” and the effort that went into Touch ID (which seems to be extravagant relative to the value of rapid unlocking).
But one word of caution: if Apple does enable payments it’s important to realize that being a (payment) bit pipe is not a particularly profitable business. It will undoubtedly bind value to the iOS devices which make it possible, but I don’t think there will be a direct capture of profit from the transactions themselves.Notes:
- I’ll be there and will report via Twitter and a special session of The Critical Path podcast [↩]
One of the paradoxes of the “post-industrial” era is the aversion to application of capital to growth opportunities. Generally speaking, capital has become trapped in bank accounts as opposed to equipment which could be used to produce value. This aversion is rooted in many dysfunctions, chief among them being the misunderstanding of the purpose of the firm.
But there are exceptions. Illustrated below are the patterns of spending in property plant and equipment (capital expenditures) by companies that still recognize that there are opportunities to be obtained by investment in the means of production.
In October 2013, at the end of its last fiscal quarter, Apple stated:
The Company’s capital expenditures were $7.0 billion during 2013, consisting of $499 million for retail store facilities and $6.5 billion for other capital expenditures, including product tooling and manufacturing process equipment, and other corporate facilities and infrastructure. The Company’s actual cash payments for capital expenditures during 2013 were $8.2 billion.
The Company anticipates utilizing approximately $11.0 billion for capital expenditures during 2014, including approximately $550 million for retail store facilities and approximately $10.5 billion for other capital expenditures, including product tooling and manufacturing process equipment, and corporate facilities and infrastructure, including information systems hardware, software and enhancements.
These 10K (fiscal year annual) forecast figures for capital expenditures are shown in the following graph. Note that they also include the fiscal years from 2006 to 2012. Note also that the graph includes the actual expenditures (in green).
From 2006 through 2013 the sum of the forecasts was $23.445 billion while the sum of the expenditures were $24.662 billion. With the exception of a carry-forward in 2012, the forecasts are broadly in-line with expenditures, with about 5% more spent than forecast.
This pattern of accuracy in spending makes a $10.5 billion expenditure during the current fiscal year believable. In other words, taking the forecast at face value, and given that three quarters of the fiscal year have already passed, what does it imply for the current and last quarter? The following graph shows what Q3 spending should be relative to previous quarters (and 2011, 2012 and 2013).