Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been rolling out its Passbook mobile payment system – known to be a competitor to the Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet, which allows consumers to use their smartphone device to pay for items or services – in stages, and is expected to at least mention upgrades to Passbook when the company unveils its iOS 6 operating system and a host of new devices at its press event next week.
This week, two major international airlines have announced that they will soon launch compatible applications for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Passbook, which would allow consumers to book flights, get their boarding passes and even check baggage using their smartphones. Virgin Atlantic airlines had unofficially launched some Passbook compatibility earlier this year and United has been officially working with Passbook in a limited way, but now American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have both indicated that they will have Passbook compatibility in the coming weeks – perhaps timing alongside the expected availability of the new smartphone OS by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which is expected to be in the market by the end of September.
The digital wallet concept is another expansion of the tech market, one in which Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been pioneering with its Wallet application while PayPal has also pioneered the digital payment space on its Web site, and now Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and others are trying to get into the game. A consortium of major retailers have recently begun working together to provide their own proprietary mobile-wallet system that would be interchangeable among the retailers and would provide special offers to consumers for products they buy most often.
Using smartphones to make payment directly from a checking or credit-card account could be a very valuable space pretty quickly, with the market place expected to increase four-fold by 2016, to more than $600 billion. How this Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Passbook feature will compete with Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet will likely be something to watch in the coming months as this space expands its reach with the expected exponential growth of the smartphone market.