I recently had to make a very a difficult decision in my personal life that resonated with my professional one.


I recently had to make a very difficult decision in my personal life that resonated with my professional one, and I was quite surprised not only at my thought process, but the result.

I work in the mobile wallet space, enabling banks, card-on-file merchants, and others to have a “device and operating system agnostic platform” on which they can create a mobile payment solution that will make their customers happy and help draw new customers in and retain existing ones. I am also a life-long Star Wars fan, having gone to see the movie in the theaters when it was the only Star Wars and not just A New Hope. I believe that Han shoots first. Anyway, I digress. The digital version of all six movies (remastered) just came out, and I wanted to purchase the set, having not purchased the DVD or Blu-Ray version before. I had a quandary: Who should I use to buy rights to the digital copy of the set?

The three main options for me were: Amazon, Apple iTunes and Google Play since I don’t have an xBox or use the other services. It is a very important choice. I wanted to purchase the movies from a company that I know I’d have a relationship with 10 years from now, heck, even maybe 25 years from now. I want access to this content on as many devices I not only currently own, but might own in the future.

While I currently own and actively use a MacBook, iPad, and iPhone, I also have a Google ChromeCast setup on my TV and have and Android tablet to boot. I don’t have any Amazon hardware.

I love using my Apple products, but I was and am wary of investing in purchasing digital goods through iTunes since I don’t trust that I will be able to use those goods on any other platform going forward (or today). Apple’s walled garden approach to content makes me nervous. It’s okay for apps that I know I’ll have to purchase on Android or another OS. The price point is acceptable for multiple purchases; then again, it would be nice to not have to buy Monument Valley (great game BTW) twice. I don’t buy music from iTunes either. Scarred from the early days when Apple downloaded proprietary file formats that weren’t portable (or burnable to a CD, back when I’d still want to create a mixed tape on CD instead of just sharing a playlist).

Google was a compelling choice, since I believe in their desire to be open source, and that I’d get a copy I could use on multiple devices, not just Android ones, but my perception is that I am not technical enough on how to do it, and it just seemed that it wasn’t easy enough. There wasn’t an app on Apple products (which I use daily) that I knew was a way to watch Greedo get what was coming to him whenever I wanted. I didn’t know if I could download the movie, and not have to stream it from Google on an Apple device. Sure I could find a way to watch it through ChromeCast, but it just didn’t seem simple, and there is the fear that Apple and Google might fight at some point in the future and lock out each other’s content (then I’d be left high and dry on all the Apple products I already owned that I’d hand down to my kids – unacceptable that my boys couldn’t watch Princess Leia toy with Luke and Han, “the fly-boys”.

So I was left with Amazon. I didn’t own any of their hardware, and the hardware, while nice, isn’t such an important part of their business strategy that they’d risk not having their content available on as many devices and operating systems as possible. Plus, I am a Prime member, and have easy checkout. Under duress a few months ago I relented and purchased Frozen for a sleepover on Amazon, and was able to plat it on multiple devices, so I knew it worked.

People are creatures of habit, I know. I don’t buy anything but apps and ringtones from iTunes anymore.   I have watched plenty of YouTube videos (my favorite is here) and if the movies had been made available on YouTube, even for the same price I might have chosen that, but it wasn’t and I didn’t.

I had purchased a movie through Amazon before and I did so again.

Then I found out I couldn’t download it to my MacBook I could only stream it there. Lots of good that does me while I’m at 30,000 feet, so instead of watching Luke turn off his X-wing computer and use the Force to target the exhaust pipe no bigger than a womp rat back home on the Death Star, I’m writing this blog post thinking about mobile how this impacts mobile wallets and mobile payments.

What are my takeaways? First mover advantage is real. Those that come out with a mobile payment solution first and get the customer to use it will have a significant advantage going forward. BUT, consumers are not always going to use the same hardware or operating system, so the system has to have some perception of portability. We don’t want to feel like we are held hostage to a company’s products as a distribution channel. Starbucks, and then ApplePay have a strong lead but there will be other solutions that, if they play their cards right, could take the lead if the others falter. I am not paying with Apple Pay, nor do I want to always have to pay by Apple Pay. I want the flexibility to pay with any of the tender types I have in my current wallet, and I need it to be just as easy on Android as it is on Apple products. I am watching Star Wars, not Star Wars, brought to you by Apple. Personally, I don’t trust Apple but I still love their products. I trust that Google and Amazon have more vested in making sure the content that I access through them will always be available no matter how I want to access it, whether it’s a movie, or access to my credit line, bank accounts or identification.

Decision made. It’s easy to go to the dark side, but in the end, it’s in my best interest to have a X platform partner.

May the Force be with you.

Posted by Rob Stringer on April 27, 2015