The iPod became the de facto standard of portable music players. The iTunes Music Store is the largest media retail store. The iPhone set the standard for modern smartphones. The tablet seems poised to upset the entire PC industry. What’s next for Apple? iWatch? iTV? Or, maybe something different such as iMoney?
The Ecosystem As Product
Look around the mobile landscape and what do you see? Innovations and products from Apple. Not just smartphone and tablet, either. It’s what they do and how they do it that’s uniquely Apple.
There’s touch and gestures across a glass screen or trackpad. There’s apps you can download with a click or a touch.
Buying apps online isn’t an Apple invention but the app store as we know it today is completely Apple.
How about the integrated and unified ecosystem of products, cloud storage, app stores? Sure, Google, Microsoft, and others have something similar, but Apple set the standard that other aspire to reach.
The more I look at the landscape of portable and integrated computing the less I see iWatch as the next great thing. Watches are passé. What about an Apple television? What’s so special about the screen itself that Apple would even bother?
After all, it’s what’s on the screen that’s important, not the hardware itself. So, I’m not convinced that Apple will do much different than Apple TV in its current incarnation, and let content producers come to where the money is.
That brings me to the old adage, ‘follow the money.’
Apple has a few things that the competition does not. A highly integrated ecosystem of products, services, applications, content, and… drum roll, please… credit card numbers. Somewhere around 500-million credit card numbers and customers scattered throughout the world.
Prediction time. Apple’s next insanely great thing is iMoney.
What’s to prevent Apple from becoming the world’s retail banker? Your credit card and iTunes account is the start. Apple can develop an easier way to pay– not just for apps or online products (even Amazon can do that)– but create the entire system necessary to use the iPhone as your digital credit card wherever you go.
The jumpstart to iMoney is the few hundred million iPhones already in the wild, and the many hundreds of millions of iTunes accounts. Apple’s famed approach to simplifying the complex will make it even easier to buy– online and in stores– using a Passbook-like approach.
Just as video content providers are lining up to create streaming video apps for the App Store and the hundreds of millions of Apple customers, a Passbook system that buys and pays as you go will attract major retailers and customers by the tens of millions.
What does Apple get by owning a worldwide money exchange system? A percentage of each transaction, and sales for the products that carry the transaction capability– iPhone, iPad, and maybe even iWatch.