updated 11:10 pm EDT, Thu October 4, 2012
Diverse range of services gather in virtual wallet
Since its debut just two weeks ago, Apple's Passbook has begun to emerge from its sleeper status as the part of iOS 6 most users were befuddled by. With new companies getting on the bandwagon seemingly each day, it may not be long before nearly every iOS 6 user has a chance to understand better what exactly Passbook is and what it will do for them. It certainly has the potential to be one of those "how did I live before this?" type apps. In addition to Starbucks and quite a few airlines, a diverse group of businesses have recently added support.
When the feature launched on September 19, users were greeted with a quizzical lack of interface, and suggestions to download apps from the App Store that were compatible with Passbook, including several airlines (United, Lufthansa, Virgin and others), Netflix (which supported movie ticket purchases), Major League Baseball (game tickets), Walgreens (replaces the plastic keychain fob for its rewards program), Ticketmaster and LiveNation (concert and event tickets, not all venues yet supported), Target (coupons), Fandango and Cineplex Odeon (movie tickets, not all venues supported yet), and Sephora (beauty chain rewards card).
Since then, a number of other businesses have come on-board, including more airlines, ticketing sites StubHub and Tickets.com, American Express, McDonalds, Eventbrite and Airbnb, expanding the audience for Apple's "virtual wallet." In addition, a number of new startups are adding Passbook support, including coupon site Kiip and Billguard, the latter of which promises to make a user's credit and debit card data (balances, any suspicious activity, list of recent charges, et cetera) available securely at a glance through Passbook.
Having the four largest event ticketing services already incorporated into Passbook was possibly Apple's first big coup, but the press and public are likely to notice the recent update to Starbucks' iOS app to add Passbook support as one of the first practical examples of everyday use of Passbook. McDonald's GoMcDo app (currently only available in France) will let users place orders for pickup, and show the receipt from Passbook to pick up the order. Airbnb is a non-hotel room booking service for travellers who want to stay in homes, apartments and other abodes on their travels, and uses Passbook as a lock-screen reminder of a booking (the company says it will implement the support in a forthcoming app update).
Eventbrite manages invitational events, sending out email notices and accepting responses to the invitations, which can include ticket sales. The company reports it has sold 50 million tickets to events ranging from charity luncheons to science-fiction conventions since its startup, and will use Passbook to store passes to be show at events as well as set time-based or location-based reminders. Passbook passes can become active as a user nears a location, such as when they enter an airport or stadium.
Major League Baseball says it has seen strong early interest for its Passbook integration with ticket purchases (currently with four teams: the SF Giants, NY Mets, Boston Red Sox and KC Royals). While it does not yet amount to "a significant" percentage of ticket sales, more stadiums and teams are expected to utilize the service next season.
Startup promotional coupon and loyalty card company Kiip is adding Passbook compatibility to its forthcoming app, which rewards users for achieving certain levels or awards in various supported games by offering them actual coupons for discounts or goods from merchants. Billguard, a service that offers to help protect credit and debit cards and bank accounts by using aggregate data to instantly identify likely suspicious purchases, will soon offer an iOS and Android app by which users would have a summary of their financial cards instantly available to them, being able to check balances on the spot or look at recent charges or fees.