In Defense of iPhone Passbook

Passport is a great idea. Not just a "good way to handle tickets", but a Great Idea in general. It's a platform/app that the iPhone should have more of - an aggregator of content from other apps. 

If and when iRemote becomes a reality, the idea should be the same: Apple will provide the platform, and  consumer electronics makers will create their own "cards" or "modules", which provide control for their products. 

Within the iRemote app, we'd seamlessly flip between controlling our Blu-Ray player, and controlling our lighting system - in the same way I can flip between my Starbucks card and the movie ticket I bought on Fandango six weeks ago.

Wait, is that seriously all there is in my Passbook?
This is something that needs to change. I try to use Passbook whenever possible - and primarily, it has my Starbucks card, the ticket stub from when I saw "Skyfall", the boarding pass from my last ORD/LGA flight on American, and my AAdvantage card. 

I don't have to carry my Starbucks card around with me anymore. And that's awesome. But I do still have to carry at least 4 cards I'd rather not - my Target RedCard isn't Passbook-friendly, for instance - and leave about 30 cards in a desk drawer. 

I have a card from every hotel chain, and from every car rental company. I carry none of them with me - that membership data is all in Evernote.

They should all be available for Passbook. 

Not just for MY convenience - wouldn't these companies like to put their logo front and center in my phone?

I recognize that it's difficult to get corporations to adopt much of anything quickly - and I'm sure that corporations are dreading the idea of retrofitting thousands of checkout kiosks to accept Passbook readers. 

That shouldn't hold them back. Starbucks, to its credit, makes Passbook checkout incredibly simple and efficient - even in a drive through. I don't even need to hand over my phone. And at Starbucks without Passbook readers (like the one I recently visited in Newark, NJ), the baristas at least recognize Passport, and immediately type in the correct account number. It's simple. 

With a Passport-based loyalty card, it would be precisely that simple. If your current equipment can't read Passport bar codes, just include the member number, and instructions to the cashier on how to input. 

Every grocery store in America could have a Passport card available today. There are dozens of companies that make this possible, and cheap. (So cheap, in fact, that I'm considering making my OWN set of Passport cards for my favorite retailers.)

Or, you can all keep the current system, in which I tell the cashier I forgot my loyalty discount card, they ask my phone number, I tell them (local area code) 867-5309, and they say "Thank you, Mr.... Jenny." 

(Thank goodness most cashiers are too young to get this reference. That little trick works basically everywhere in America.)

Seriously, though - Passbook is a quick, colorful, and efficient platform, and should be praised for its awesomeness, instead of derided for the low number of corporations that are forward-thinking enough to utilize it. 

And when that iRemote app is released, let's hope Apple has the major consumer electronics companies on board beforehand.... and let's hope those companies act more like Starbucks, and less like everyone else.


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