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The world has been waiting a long time to adopt the elusive digital wallet but with the release of Apple’s Passbook digital ticketing app in iOS 6 last September it has suddenly developed a whole lot more traction. It is easy to see why. Anyone who has scrambled around frantically trying to find their boarding card or run out of printer ink on the morning of an important flight knows all about the limitations of paper-based ticketing.
The fact that the market is ready for such technology was amply demonstrated by one of Apple’s well-chosen early adopters, Major League Baseball (MLB).
MLB trialed Passbook with four teams for the final two weeks of last season and were astonished at the uptake. It is a good trial because the audience is not necessarily a technical one and it emphasizes that the general market is ready for this move. It also emphasized how many different markets there are where the technology is applicable. Alongside sports and airline ticketing the Passbook app can be utilized for a whole host of applications. Discount coupons and vouchers for example are obvious areas for adoption. But the technology is also ideal for gift cards, which can be easily sent to the recipient’s smartphone, and even hotel room keys and id cards.
The first benefit to the consumer is simply ease of use – no more lost tickets or forgotten passes. The smartphone has become such a central part of our lives that it is a natural place for us to keep these items and this can be seen in the fast uptake of Passbook.
The benefit to the issuing organization is more subtle but no less powerful. The obvious benefit of course is simply cost and efficiency. With no paper to print and no shipping to consider the company saves time and money. The opportunities for mobile marketing though offer much more. An example would be to use digital ticketing combined with the smartphone’s location services to offer time limited and location specific marketing messages.
Here a restaurant could market an early bird offer to people passing by their location at exactly the time when the offer is valid.
Applications like these allow the retailer to form valuable and personal relationships with customers, almost on a one to one basis, at very little cost.
The technology then is compelling but Apple already knows that ease of use is key to adoption and while use is certainly easy for consumers, it is not so straightforward for the organizations producing the digital ticketing and vouchers.
That is why companies that take away the need for integration and coding knowledge are such an important part of the Passbook ecosystem and so vital to realizing the potential of this technology.
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