Welcome to this edition of “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
Today we cover retailers’ shutting out of Apple Pay, the FCC’s consideration of changing Internet TV rules, Microsoft’s Band, and the coming out of Tim Cook.
Retailers are freezing out Apple Pay
A coalition of retailers is causing a ruckus in the mobile payments world by disabling their near-field communications (NFC) payment terminals, thus freezing out NFC-based payments systems like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and contactless credit cards.
Many of the nation’s largest retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy and CVS, are part of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which is an alliance who is developing their own competing mobile payments app called CurrentC, which uses QR code technology to facilitate payments.
It’s clear why MCX wants to push CurrentC and freeze out other forms of mobile payments. CurrentC will allow customers to directly link their bank accounts to the app, so retailers won’t have to pay a fee like they do with credit cards. More importantly, retailers will have first-hand access to the purchasing and behavioral data of their customers, so they can deliver personalized deals and offers to garner loyalty. This data currently lies with the credit cards.
In reality, this exclusion of NFC-based payment systems is really short sighted. Customers want choice, and don’t want to be forced into using one method of payment. And CurrentC’s use of QR codes is actually less convenient than NFC. Oh by the way, CurrentC recently got hacked. Whoops.
In the end, paying with a credit card isn’t that bad, so maybe everyone’s chasing a problem that doesn’t really exist.
FCC considers treating Internet TV outfits like cable companies
The true promise of Internet TV may be soon upon us.
The FCC is considering a rule change that gives over-the-top Internet TV providers, such as Netflix and Apple TV, the ability to purchase popular programming from broadcast networks, a privilege that only cable operators like Comcast and Time Warner currently have. This means that broadcasters can no longer bar online video providers from carrying their content, and that these online video providers can negotiate fair licensing deals with content providers.
Cable companies suck for many reasons. But a key reason they are horrible is that consumers have to pay through the roof for a trillion channels they don’t watch to access the 10 channels that they do. If this rule change actually happens, consumers are more likely to cut the cable cord and still be able to watch their favorites shows online without breaking the bank on other unwatched channels.
That’d be awesome.
Microsoft launches Band, its first wearable
Microsoft has launched Band, a fitness wearable that tracks users’ heart rate, calories burned, steps taken, and sleep.
The Redmond, WA-based company is a little late to an already crowded wearables party that includes attendees like FitBit, Jawbone, Samsung, and Apple. But Microsoft’s big differentiator is that Band can work with any mobile platform, including Android, iOS and its own Windows Phone, through its Health mobile app.
Additionally, Band will track your activity and learn more about you the more you use it. Algorithms will then recognize patterns and deliver recommendation on how you can improve your health and fitness.
Microsoft has had success in the past by being a little late to the party but improving on current offerings. We’ll see if that strategy works for Band.
Tim Cook comes out, is “proud to be gay”
The tech world in Silicon Valley can be pretty homogenous and insensitive to women and minorities. That’s why Tim Cook’s coming-out is a breath of fresh air.
In an essay for BloombergBusinessweek, Cook became the first Fortune 500 CEO to publicly announce that he’s gay. “Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day,” stated Cook.
That’s something that is refreshing and change is necessary in Silicon Valley and the business world in general. Hopefully Cook’s coming-out will open everyone’s eyes and push our world toward equality regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.
Image courtesy of CurrentC