Why Apple’s New Patents are Commerce Game Changers?

This week Apple added a new patent (US 8,321,294) to its war chest.  The EasyPay patent is worth a closer look. The commerce patent allows mobile shoppers to activate and buy items from physical stores via the Internet connection on their device.

While this seems pretty clear and reflects Apple’s EasyPay trials:  it is far more profound. Combined with Apple’s earlier patent (US 8,290,513) in October using magnetic fields (as a substitute to NFC) this is clearly is Apple’s showrooming and mobile commerce positioning statement.

Why are these two patents so interesting? One, while the EasyPay trail used QR codes, the new patent definition of shopper is far broader:

“Techniques for improved interaction between online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers that provide patron-accessible networks are disclosed. The location and/or the fact that any given purchase was made from a particular retailer’s patron-accessible network can be tracked for a variety of purposes. The invention can facilitate partnering between online retailers (i.e. online stores) and traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ business establishments. As an example, the invention can be used to track and give credit for online purchases at an online retailer that are facilitated by a brick-and-mortar retailer.”

Now combine the two patents. The earlier Apple patent in October was for a Method and Apparatus for Triggering Network Device Discovery. This was Apple way of side stepping NFC and using the phones’ compass output patterns (magnetic field signatures).

EasyPay can be expanded to leverage any network device discovery.  This allows any store shelf or walk-by media to be activated via a magnetic field tap and jump into an EasyPay checkout process. Path-to-purchase becomes “PURCHASE”.

Is Facebook suddenly a 13x ROI ad network?

Facebook in 2012 had a hard time convincing the retail market that it was a mobile commerce player. Facebook opened storefronts with GameStop and others retail partners. They should have been a success. However, all languished and were closed over the course of the storefront trial.

While Facebook may not be the destination that users go to shop, it has proven its value as the preeminent social “influencer” of commerce. Today’s Samsung results vindicate the network and all doubters.

After a three-week, $10 million ad buy with Facebook, Samsung reached over 100 million unique users and generated $129 million in sales! That is a 13x return on a $10 million ad buy.

While these numbers are powerful testament to the social shopping behaviour on the web. Samsung has more than 20 million fans on Facebook and needed to find ways influence their buying decisions. SALES not LIKES drive profits!

Coming out of the tremendous results from Cyber Monday, we know that somewhere advertising and commerce needs to find a closer connection. The market is still in the pursue of a way for sales-driving networks like Facebook (in the advertising world) to connect more seamlessly to commerce conversion network (in the retail world).

PayPal reported a 200% increase in transactions through this past weekend. If Facebook’s reach could be married to a “one-click commerce” checkout, this 13x conversion rate may jump a significant multiple.

In a world where “path to purchase” is a perilous path and we need find ways to better connect these two worlds.

Mobile, Dating & George Costanza in 100-degree NYC

Gary Schwartz, author of The Impulse Economy and the upcoming book: FAST SHOPPER . SLOW STORE, braved the 100-degree New York weather to speak about the origins and future of impulse purchases and how mobile feeds into it.

The crowd – who found out about the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) FlashCon through Twitter and Facebook – were entertained and educated by tales of dating, gumball machines, and George Costanza! Here is some of the street fair: The full versions of both this FlashCon and Gary’s interview back at DMA HQ with Paul McDonnough are now available on the DMA’s YouTube channel.

Impulse infograph: print + mobile = new proximity media buy

combining mobile with print to drive engagement

Here is a quick infograph based on statistics on AD spend verses TIME spend on media. If you flip mobile on its head, it neatly makes the print imbalance even out. This is not just graphic magic: it makes perfect industry sense.

The print budget is not going away. By using proximity marketing (NFC, QR, TXT) to activate this media, you create a new retail experience that lives between the physical store media and the internet cloud.

Interview: Shopper + smartphone = impulse purchase (WSJ)

Smartphones and other mobile devices are changing the way we shop. Gary Schwartz, founder and CEO of Impact Mobile and author of “The Impulse Economy,” tells Radio’s Adrienne Mitchell smart businesses are responding to more-impulsive shoppers.

Interview: 10 Mobile Big Things in 2012 (BNN)

Business News Network 7.5 mins: 10 Mobile Big Things in 2012 Gary Schwartz, CEO, Impact Mobile, joins BNN to speak about the 10 big mobile things in 2012.

2012 “Top 10” MOBILE trends & rankings

In a season where every second tweet and Google+ post is a look-back or forward at the “mobile” year, it is sometimes difficult to navigate all the insights. Just Google “Mobile Top 10 . . .” and you will find every blogger, publication and pundit providing their vision of what is newsworthy, trendworthy or simply rankable in mobile.

The proliferation of mobile “Top 10s” is a good thing. It is proof of all the many verticals areas that mobile has intersected. Health, IT, gaming, banking, retail, social, payment, fraud, security, privacy, patent trolling – all now have some form of a top 10 mobile list.

The explosion of the Mobile Top Ten list shows both how disruptive mobile has become and, also, what a massive audience it commands. Top 10-related news headlines seem to drive more hits and be retweeted more than other items.

(Twitter even tweets its top 10 most retweeted tweets. No. 2 being @LilTunechi Lil Wayne WEEZY F “aaaaaaahhhhhhmmmmm baaaaakkkkkkkkkk.” The 2011 top of the top 10 retweets was by Wendy’s restaurants “RT for a good cause. Each retweet sends 50c to help kids in foster care. #TreatItFwd.” Wendy’s raised $1.8 million.)

We seem to all need, what Perry Hoekstra in his blog calls an “Obligatory 2011 Top Ten Mobile Story List.” I presume it helps us simplify this expanding, complex world of mobile. If we can prioritize importance and cut off the discussion at ten, the list can help us make sense of mobile.

Lists also keep us honest. We never are right on half our predictions. Remember our 2010 trends and forecasts? They are out there in the blogosphere for all those with 20/20 hindsight to chuckle.

In December 2010, we all had an opinion on HP webOS-powered tablet plans – that never happened. And where on the list was Google’s purchase of Motorola, ostensibly as fodder for their IP wars against Apple? Missed that one.

But the biggest problem with these lists is their length. In the wasteland of eggnog and turkey dinners, I ask, where are the mobile Clifs Notes? Where is the super-list? Where is the list of lists?

Steve Yankovich, head of mobile for eBay, tells us that the mobile consumer’s attention span is roughly 15 seconds, nose-to-phone. EBay designs its mobile pages for the dwell time at an elevator or the time idling at the red light. Perhaps, in the spirit of mobile efficiency, we better design our year-end prognostications for this small attention-deficit window.

This holiday season, I add to the litany of lists my retrospect and forecast of mobile, but below in 100 words or less.


  1. Facebook timeline set it back in history
  2. Google+ builds circle of trust
  3. Symbian sang swansong
  4. Apple continued to make data a free commodity
  5. Spectrum war showed its dark side
  6. All screens called mobile
  7. Amazon cloud disrupts the mall
  8. Consumer data became jewel in the crown
  9. CarrierIQ poster-child of privacy angst
  10. NFC wallet traded press, not payment


  1. NFC proximity marketing, not proximity payment – yet
  2. X9 (ISO) delivers mobile security recommendations
  3. Apple says “I Do” to NFC
  4. Research In Motion exits stage right
  5. Cloud checkout is optimized and mainstream
  6. Super App = HTML5 browser
  7. Focus on prepaid market services
  8. LTE networks and spectrum become big issues
  9. Mobile privacy hype continues
  10. Microsoft and Nokia enter stage left

Not quite 100 words, but near enough.

Happy Mobile New Year.

Black Friday Mobile “Mall Buster”

By Gary Schwartz

As I sit thoughtfully, wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I have a mobile premonition that times are a’changing.

Black Friday may be becoming Cyber Friday – which would mean a dark Monday for many retailers and malls in North America.

On November 28, 2005, Shop.org started discussing an online shopping phenomenon following the Thanksgiving weekend that it coined Cyber Monday. After fighting for sale items in the aisles, shoppers starting surfing the web for remnant deals.

However over the past year, Matt Shay and his team at the National Retail Federation should realizing that the online shopping cloud (that was politely situated on a separate day with separate deals for online shoppers) is now disruptively moving into our primetime shopping calendar.

While most mobile shopping on Black Friday still tends to be mobile marketing focused: Price comparison hunting with Amazon PriceCheck, ShopSavvy or eBay’s Redlazer App; Mobile couponing clipping for show-to-save deals that drive impulse door swing into the mall and retail store.

These shopping APPs and mobile web services are great for hardcore price hunters but the small-screen experience is not optimal. The mobile phone may help the shopper better navigate high value items such as shoes or electronics in their local mall. The mobile phone may steer the shopper to a purchase or may rudely interrupt an in-aisle purchase.

But what is beyond price hunting? If a PriceCheck shows a better deal online, many folk are likely to close their phone and choose to buy the item that evening on the web on a large screen in the comfort of their home.

This is about to change.  There is a new breed of shopping disruption entering the market.  Apple’s iPad has hybridized:

  • mobile & fixed internet
  • small screen & large screen
  • impulse & thoughtful shopping

Kindle Fire: The Mall Buster

The new commerce-tablet is a portable mall buster. The iPad allows for an elegant portable internet experience, Apple focus continued to be the APP economy and digital checkout on iTunes.

Other tablets have entered the market on Apple’s terms and had mix results  . . . until the Amazon’s new tablet Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is all about one-click commerce. The device is optimized for in-store, in-mall deal hunting, price comparison and most importantly one-click checkout.

Amazon has always been a commerce disrupter. They battled and beat the book store. Now they are taking on the entire mall.

Amazon reinvented book browsing. In 2007, we saw the first Kindle, the harbinger of a new power game and more importantly a new relationship with the mobile consumer. In order to promote its Kindle device, Amazon sold electronic books below wholesale prices.  A tactical loss. Owning the commerce platform was the ultimate reward for Amazon.

Amazon won the book battle: Borders bookstore went out of business and Barnes & Noble opened coffee shops and began selling household furniture.

The Kindle Fire (which combines book commerce with the immersive Kindle experience) is the final commerce frontier.  Amazon is so confident in the commerce that they will generate in the mall that they are selling the unit at a loss ($199 while the unit cost is $210).

Amazon’s One-Click commerce along with VISA’s V.me service, Billing Revolution’s Single-Click and a flood of cloud commerce options will enter the market this year.

What does this mean to the great American Black Friday tradition?

It means that shoppers on Friday, November 30th, 2012 may move from comparison price hunting in the mall to disruptive purchasing in the cloud. No longer are Cyber Monday and Black Friday neatly separated: the cloud is in the mall . . .  to stay.

Dark Clouds

We anticipate over 5000 store closings in 2012 – nearly 40% up from 2011. Many of these closings will be due to continuing shopper malaise; however, as in-mall cloud shopping accelerates, stores particularly in the apparel, shoe and electronics vertical will need to reinvent themselves. They will need to focus on breaking down the channel barriers between their online presents and the physical store. Tackling “cross-channel disconnect” will be key to survival.

Stores will need to focus on the non-Black-Friday days – all 364 of them and work to build a loyalty, one-to-one relationship with the shopper using their phones to bridge the store experience with the store’s cloud experience.

Content curation, sensory experience, customer service and love are all the store has. It will not win on price alone.