Testing to see if I can post to my blog via SMS, I created this using ifttt.com in less than 5 mins, how awesome is that? (sent via SMS)
Theres a lot of hype around NFC & mobile payments going around, analyst are predicting it as the next big thing and rumour mills are churning out stories about the iPhone 5 having NFC faster than a Foxconn plant on double time.
I’m still quite skeptical about using my phone for payment, is carrying a card such a hassle? in fact one of my phone cases even has a card slot in the front to hold a card. Anyway regardless of do we need it I had an interesting thought the other day, Now I like my gadgets, I went through a lot of hassle to get LloydsTSB to give me a contactless debit card because I wanted to play with it, I’ve even got google wallet running on my Nexus S so I can say I’ve used both of these in the wild.
I quite like my contactless debit card, aside from being able to confuse shop assistants it actually has one feature I really like, most of the payment machines don’t insist on giving a me a stupid little slip of paper when I use it, so whenever possible I use the card that way.
Now last week I was at Paddington station heading home and had missed lunch so I popped into McDonalds for a quick ’snack’ one of the great things about McDonalds was I can use my contactless card, and their workflow is setup such that it does actually make it faster than Chip & Pin or Cash, no wasted time spending 2 mins telling the assistant I was to pay by contactless so she’ll need to type in the amount before i enter the card.
Anyway I ordered my food and then went to touch the card, “Oh thats not working you’ll need to use the chip” said the girl behind the till, no problem these things happen stuff breaks and I just reverted to the old fashioned way of paying.
That got me thinking, what if I had been using my phone? My Contactless card actually has 4 ways I can use it to pay, there’s the new fangled NFC, there’s Chip & Pin, Its got a magnetic stripe on the back that can be swiped then I sign, and its even still got the number embossed so should the store still have one of those old carbon zipzap devices they can dust that off and use that. The technology degrades gracefully, in the event of a failure it can fall back to another method, yes it might take longer, be less convenient and probably be less secure but thats a trade off and as a backup system it works great for everybody, I can still pay with my card and the retailer doesn’t lose a sale because some of their technology is broken.
What about the phone, well its contactless or nothing. So if I can’t use that then I’m stuffed, in fact I can’t even use it in a cash machine to get good old fashioned paper money out, so would I reply on my phone as my only form of payment? Of course not! I’ll still need to carry a card or two, and If I’m doing that then why not just use the card all the time, its a lot quicker to downgrade the tech when there’s a problem
One of the new features announced by Google yesterday was support for “Buyer Currency” now this may come as something of a shock to iPhone users but chargeable apps in the Android Market have been billed in the developers currency since launch!
Yep thats right Google that multinational company that connects the whole world couldn’t solve a simple issue such that if I want to purchase an app from their app store written by a developer in say the USA (There are quite a few of them) then I have to pay for that App in US Dollars. Not a huge issue I thought at first, thankfully VISA manage to take care of letting me pay in any currency then debiting my UK bank account in GBP.
However my Bank helpfully see’s this ‘extra’ service as a highly valued commodity and levies a charge for this, not just a simple 1-2% of the amount charge but a fixed fee regardless of amount, now normally this wouldn’t be much of an issue walking into the Apple Store in downtown SF and dropping $1000 on a couple of iPads I don’t really mind paying with my UK card and the bank adding on a £1 charge. However when I’m buying a $0.99 app from Android Market I still get hit with the same £1 charge! I end up paying more to my bank in fees than I do for the app. Madness!
Now this has been one of my major complaints about the Android Market since launch, Google are the big player in the model and for their 30% cut of the takings they should be brokering the currency deals such that both the independent developer and the consumer don’t get a sucky experience.
However they didn’t, Its a bit like me going into Tesco and them saying yes your english apples will be billed in GBP but those strawberries were grown in Spain so will bill you for those in Euros, and the maple syrup thats canadian so Dollars there…..
Anyway Google have announced their solution yesterday and at best I’d rate it a C-
Their ’solution’ is called Buyer Currency and its an option for developers to set a price in multiple currencies around the world. Yes thats right another thing the developer has to do in order to sell their app in Googles ‘global’ marketplace. Now I wonder how many developers will bother to go through and work our their pricing for each country, and how many will do that for all countries, as a Market I suspect that the GBP is a fairly small slice of the app store, most of the rest of Europe uses the Euro so I guess its reasonable to expect US developers to add that but GBP? How many will think of that?
And what about currency price changes? Do developers have to go in and adjust their pricing as rates rise and fall, will tech savvy consumers be able to hedge their app purchases based on the best current exchange rates?
Why Google, why? I know you like to be open and offer developers control but lets face it Apple have got this right and you’re wrong, right now I think very carefully before buying an app priced in anything other than GBP and the net result is that developers sell less apps. All you’ve done here is create an extra complication and workload for the developer, which right or wrong some developers won’t bother with and end result is the user looses out.
PS Yes I know I could blame the banks for adding the charge in the first place but lets face it they were there first and doing this long before the market came along, and yes I could switch accounts to someone that doesn’t add the charge but I like my bank, everything is with them and why should I change due to Googles failings.
Last week I went to DroidCon in London, as I had an early start and I got the venue with half an hour to spare I had breakfast at the Breakfast Club Cafe in Angel, unfortunately our expense system only allows 50 characters in the description field when claiming expenses which I hardly think does this experience justice (nor can I claim to be embracing the spirit of Sarbanes-Oxley) therefore I’m writing a post which I can shorten with bit.ly then link to from our expenses system.
I’m not claiming for the coffee as that would put me over policy £6.00 even though I dont think this is an excessive amount of food for a human male on a cold winters morning (let me know if you agree in the comments)
I also had an apple juice but as this is part of my 5-a-day and the government mandated it I’m clearly getting far more benefit from this than the company would so I won’t claim for that either. Sorry I didn’t get a photo of this as it didn’t look that appetising, therefore it must have been healthy.
Here’s a picture of my receipt with the items I’m paying for out of my own pocket clearly crossed through, you’d think that a large technology focussed company would be able to do without paper but in a couple of days the electronic system will tell me to print out my claim and put it in an envelope along with theses scraps of paper and send it to a real person.
There’s been some recent discussions around contact syncing and particularly issues wiht the HTC Hero’s latest update. Mark Watts-Jones had a rather embarrassing moment he shared on twitter and it made me think about the whole issue of keeping mobile device information current.
I recently managed to get my wife to become a regular user of mobile data, great I thought this stuff is finally getting mainstream traction, Until we got this months bill…
I’ve been experimenting with my unlocked 3.0 iPhone 3G for a week or so now and I’ve just got the MMS Settings sorted. see below for details and an explanation of what you need
So the G1 is out, I’ve had a chance to play with one in a T-Mobile store and it seems like a nice OS, however it doesn’t look like an iPhone killer yet.
Lets take a look at some of the points I’ve picked up on.
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