Apple's iWallet Is on the Way

If history holds, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is working on an iOS version of Google Wallet while Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is developing an alternative in time for the launch of the iPhone 5. Call it iWallet, an iTunes-ready system for using your handset to pay for goods and services.

Apple has no choice. Speaking last week at a conference in Cannes, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Google is pushing hard to enable such "tap and pay" systems worldwide to capitalize on what he said could be a "trillion-dollar" opportunity.

In this case, "pushing hard" means cajoling partners to put the infrastructure in place to process payments from Android phones. Much of the work is already nearing completion, Schmidt said in comments picked up by The Financial Times.

"How long does it take an infrastructure player to upgrade a significant percentage of their infrastructure -- it's on the order of a year, it's not a week, it's not a month, but it's also not five years. ... It's an educated guess," the FT reports Schmidt as saying.

Meanwhile, more smartphones are getting near-field communications technology. Samsung built the Nexus S handset to include NXP Semiconductors' (Nasdaq: NXPI  ) NFC chipsets. Apple hasn't revealed details regarding its next-generation iPhones.

But with Google's history of successfully porting software to the iOS, do any of us doubt that payment-processing software will be built into the next iPhone, even if it's only an iPhone "4S," as some analysts are calling it? (Some believe the iPhone 5 won't ship until the middle of next year.) I can't see Apple failing that badly, especially with Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) , MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) , and First Data already backing Google Wallet.

Do you agree? Disagree? Kick off the discussion using the comments box below. You can also add any of these companies to your watchlist and get our latest analysis as soon as it's published:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (13)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2011, at 11:40 PM, steveonyx wrote:

    I love it! i feel like I track Apple news pretty closely, but this is the first time i've heard of iWallet. In the article it sounds like this is a defensive move to counter Google, but if that is what it takes to drive even more innovation at Apple, then I'm happy to see it happen.

    The concept of leveraging the smartphone for retail transactions is an obvious next step in the evolution so I can't wait to see what Apple comes up with.

    Knowing Apple, they won't make a ton of money on the transactions, but it will drive even great adoption of iOS and the devices that support it. This is just the opposite of Google who will venture into with an unclear objective and it will show in product they produce.

    All of this continues to support my money making with the Apple stock. Check it out my Apple trades at: http://onyxinvesting.com/trade-history/big-money-on-apple/

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2011, at 2:57 AM, Fictual wrote:

    This is not a case of Apple driving innovation, this is a case of apple chasing innovation. Fail for the Apple fanboy.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2011, at 7:57 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    Fictual - Who cares as long as they continue to make money. They don't have to lead.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2011, at 10:58 AM, David369 wrote:

    If you think about it, only one "system" will eventually win out in the long run, like Betamax vs VHS. (or Dinners Club vs Amercian Express) And like them the best doesn't always win but first starter will have a big lead no matter how small it is. If I were Apple I wouldn't reinvent the wheel but go with the flow and make their system compatible with the android's. Less risk, probably less cost and iphone will still be equal or better in features to the competition and they can use the groundwork done by Google. Of course, I don't have the ego of Jobs so that probably won't happen. Probably why he's rich and I'm not....

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 2:21 AM, Fictual wrote:

    jdmeck - I was just responding to the original comment that stated Apple is driving this innovation. Which is clearly not the case this time.

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