Samsung Takes Note Of Apple’s Passbook And Fires Back With Its Own Wallet App

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(Image courtesy of Steve Troughton-Smith)

I’m no great fan of Apple’s Passbook, but it seems at least a few people at Samsung have taken a shine to the same general concept. Earlier today, Samsung officially outed a new Samsung Wallet app at its Developer Day here at MWC that will allow users to store coupons, membership cards, tickets, and boarding passes on their smartphone. Sound familiar?

The concept doesn’t just sound familiar, it looks familiar too — the brief video below (courtesy of Frandroidtube) highlights an application that includes some skeuomorphic design touches that seem awfully Passbookian. Developers itching to tinker with Samsung Wallet can have a look at some early API and UI guides, and Samsung’s Wallet developer page says the API can be used starting on March 7th — just ahead of the company’s big New York Unveiling of the Galaxy S IV.

Now despite what the name suggests, there’s no way to actually use Samsung Wallet to pay for anything — there’s no support for anything like in-person NFC transactions here for now. That’s not entirely surprising since Visa noted that Samsung was a member of its Visa Ready partner program, and that the Korean company’s forthcoming Android smartphones will ship with support for Visa’s payWave wireless payments.

Still, there’s another level at play here. According to The Verge, Samsung’s apparent lack of interest in enhancing its Passbook lookalike with NFC may ultimately just be a concession to merchants who don’t want to invest in new hardware. While NFC is just as buzzy here as it seems to be every year, it still hasn’t won over everyone — PayPal president David Marcus is no great fan himself, stating time and again that NFC payments are a shortsighted step in the market that will soon be leapfrogged.

But there are some other questions to chew on here too. Apple and Samsung are the two of the world’s most popular, most prominent, and most influential smartphone companies — what happens now that they’ve both effectively said that smartphones need to be wallets? Only time will tell, but if Samsung pushes out a Galaxy S IV on March 14 with Samsung Wallet in tow, the rest of the world’s OEMs and smartphone designers may feel the pressure to follow suit in one way or another.