How Popular Is Passbook? Sephora Sees 17,000 Passbook Users On Day One, 20K After 24 Hours

How popular is Apple’s Passbook, the new iOS 6 application that lets you store tickets, cards, and coupons in a mobile wallet-like interface? According to some early data from Branding Brand, the company that built the app for cosmetics and skin care brand Sephora, Passbook adoption is booming. In the first day following iOS 6’s availability, Sephora’s “Beauty Insider” card was added to 17,000 users’ Passbooks. Twenty-four hours later, that number reached 20,000.

What’s even more remarkable about these numbers is that the iPhone 5 wasn’t available until today, and not all users of compatible Apple mobile devices have yet to upgrade to iOS 6, the version which includes the native Passbook application. As of yesterday, iOS 6 had been adopted by 15% of eligible iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, according to multiple data sources. On iPhone, it was hovering around 17% 24 hours in. Those are good numbers, and they’re aided by Apple users’ familiarity with the upgrade process and Apple’s end-to-end control over the hardware and software. (For comparison’s sake, Android’s latest, aka Jelly Bean, has a 1.2% distribution.)

For Sephora, the introduction of Passbook to its customer base started with an email blast which included a big banner prompting customers to add their “Beauty Insider” card to Passbook on iPhone and iPod Touch. Clicking the “Learn More” link redirected users to this website, which further explained general card details – like how it can be used to earn and redeem points and keep track of points balances, for example. For users in need of installation instructions, a “Have questions?” link took them to this page which explains in more detail how to download and sign into the main Sephora iOS application, then add the card to Passbook.

This call-to-action likely worked well for Sephora’s core customer base, who clicked through to set up their app to work with Passbook. However, for new or casual customers of the brand, the sign up process to become a “Beauty Insider” was still a little tedious. When I first registered last night, the form got stuck loading after submission and never went through. (Today it worked fine). It’s a web form, not one that’s designed for the native iOS interface. And it asks you for a lot of details including name, birth date/age, zip code, email, and even has you set up a security question. I realize that brands simply need to have all our personal details for their marketing efforts, but there are ways to collect that info in a more user-friendly interface. There are some missed opportunities here (see also the experience with Target’s mobile coupons yesterday) in terms of onboarding new customers more quickly in order to connect them with Passbook. Still, 20,000 Passbook users in a day is nothing to sniff at.