Apple: Falling up or down?


Newton - APple-Reduced

IT’S A FACT that Sir Isaac Newton set forth laws of motion and gravitation that have endured for nearly four centuries with precious little revision. It also appears to be a fact that the sight of a falling apple may indeed have catalyzed his theorizing about gravity. The part about its bonking him on the head was an embellishment that came along years later.

If Newton were to park his remarkable noggin under a tree today, there is some question as to whether he would have observed an apple—that is, Apple Pay—on its way down or up. Four weeks ago, The Street ran a piece by Brian O’Connell entitled “Apple Pay Growth Sours As Consumers Reject Digital Payments”. Two weeks ago, Business Insider ran a piece by BI Intelligence, which somehow I suspect is not the name of a real person, entitled “Apple Pay is dominating the mobile payments industry.”

O’Connell opens with the suggestion that Apple executives love to talk about the success of their technology, but prefer to dodge conversations about Apple Pay. Reasons he cites:

“In the U.S., iPhones account for about 44% of the estimated 207 million smartphones,” notes Andy Schmidt, principal executive advisor at CEB Tower Group in Boston. “Of these iPhones, approximately 29% of them are from the iPhone 6 family—the devices that support Apple Pay. That means that only about 13% of all smartphones in the U.S. are even capable of using Apple Pay.”

Vendor adoption is another issue that’s holding back Apple Pay, Schmidt says. “While 13% of U.S. smartphones are Apple Pay enabled, not all vendors accept it either at point of sale (POS) or online where the ‘buy now’ button reigns supreme, further decreasing potential adoption,” he adds.

The above reporting appears at odds with the BI Intelligence article, which opens:

In its Q2 2016 earnings call, Apple provided some new Apple Pay data that indicates the service’s ongoing steady gains.

The data indicates that as the platform expands internationally, it continues to hold its own in the US mobile payments market despite the entrance of strong competition …

BI Intelligence credits the alleged success of Apple Pay to growth of monthly active users, due largely to international growth, and popularity in the U.S., where Apple Pay accounts for a reported three out of four contactless transactions.

It’s nothing new when the same data lead to opposing interpretations. Nor is at a secret that no one, not even the most scrupulous journalist, is immune to bias. This may be a case where we must await future hindsight in order to know whether glass-half-empty or glass-half-full reporting was right. Meanwhile, it’s an exciting ride we can all enjoy.

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