Apple’s ability to deliver on these less sexy announcements will become increasingly important, especially when the market for mobile devices slows down. The more that consumers are wedded to Apple’s ecosystem, the better positioned the company will be to take advantage of new opportunities.

For example, a new feature called Passbook sets Apple up to have a role in — and possibly take a cut of — purchases that people make in the physical world, said Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Group LLC, a consulting firm. Many companies, such as Google, have proposed sweeping initiatives to do digital payments that involve pushing standards on banks and convincing retailers to buy point-of-sale gizmos.

Since consumers have yet to fully embrace mobile commerce, Apple’s approach is to help consumers do what they’re already doing. For example, many Starbucks gift card owners call up the chain’s mobile app on their iPhones to buy their lattes. If Passbook works as advertised, the Starbucks screen will automatically appear on your device by the time you get to the barista. For those who check in for a flight using their phone, Passbook will alert them if the gate changes.

“It’s exactly what you’d expect from Apple: They chose to get in at a time and place of their choosing, and commandeer what’s already happening,” said Ablowitz.

Bloomberg.com, June 13, 2012
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