This week Apple added a new patent (US 8,321,294) to its war chest. The EasyPay patent is worth a closer look. The commerce patent allows mobile shoppers to activate and buy items from physical stores via the Internet connection on their device.
While this seems pretty clear and reflects Apple’s EasyPay trials: it is far more profound. Combined with Apple’s earlier patent (US 8,290,513) in October using magnetic fields (as a substitute to NFC) this is clearly is Apple’s showrooming and mobile commerce positioning statement.
Why are these two patents so interesting? One, while the EasyPay trail used QR codes, the new patent definition of shopper is far broader:
“Techniques for improved interaction between online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers that provide patron-accessible networks are disclosed. The location and/or the fact that any given purchase was made from a particular retailer’s patron-accessible network can be tracked for a variety of purposes. The invention can facilitate partnering between online retailers (i.e. online stores) and traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ business establishments. As an example, the invention can be used to track and give credit for online purchases at an online retailer that are facilitated by a brick-and-mortar retailer.”
Now combine the two patents. The earlier Apple patent in October was for a Method and Apparatus for Triggering Network Device Discovery. This was Apple way of side stepping NFC and using the phones’ compass output patterns (magnetic field signatures).
EasyPay can be expanded to leverage any network device discovery. This allows any store shelf or walk-by media to be activated via a magnetic field tap and jump into an EasyPay checkout process. Path-to-purchase becomes “PURCHASE”.