Apple just announced a new iOS app on-stage at WWDC called Passbook that aims to store all of your “passes” — a category that includes boarding passes, store cards, and movie tickets. This could be a boon for consumers, but bad news for Square and other startups.
The idea is to create one app that replaces a lot of the clutter in your wallet (or, if you’re an early-adopter, unifies an experience that was spread across multiple mobile apps). So you can open up Passbook whenever you need to board a flight, get into a movie, or get a discount at the store — it looks like the passes are mostly, but not exclusively, redeemed using QR codes.
The examples included a Starbucks card, where the user’s balance is automatically updated with each payment. On the airline side, the app can alert you if the gate changes for your flight. Passbook also integrates with the phone’s lock screen using time and location information, so you can bring up (say) a Fandango movie ticket that will pop up as soon as you arrive at the theater. You can also delete passes, which are then virtually shredded.
It’s not clear yet how many partners partners Passbook will launch with, or how easily other businesses will sign up, but this could have pretty big repercussions for other companies. For example, I’ve seen a flood of startups who jumped on the loyalty bandwagon and tried to replace the physical punchcards and memberships in your wallet. It could also compete with the loyalty features in Pay by Square, and with some of the storage capabilities in Evernote.