Android users pining over Apple’s Passbook wallet functionality need pine no more, provided they plan to use a Samsung smartphone. At a developer event on Wednesday, Samsung announced its own wallet software that replicates Apple’s Passbook functionality, complete with an open API for partner integration. Ironically, right after Apple announced Passbook ticket support at 13 Major League Baseball parks, Samsung noted that the MLB is an initial partner for its new wallet.
Samsung explained the new wallet feature along with a list of other launch partners during the developer session:
One of the most popular sessions this year featured the introduction of the open API for the Samsung Wallet service, which allows users to collect coupons, membership cards, tickets, and boarding passes from partners’ applications and store them in one place. The service’s launching partners like Walgreens, Belly, Major League Baseball Advanced Media , Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Lufthansa were announced during the session.
I’m conflicted by the news. It’s actually good for consumers to have similar functionality on both iOS and Android, provided the partner list is generally the same. I don’t want to have choose a platform, for example, because its wallet app is the only one that works with vendors I use. But I have to wonder: Why is Samsung doing this and not Google itself for Android?
This question gets back to the concern I just noted about platform choice. Because this app will only work with Samsung devices, it now becomes a choice of what brand of Android phone to use in support of wallet features. This shouldn’t be an initiative with an original equipment manufacturer; this should be a project for Android as a whole. I don’t blame Samsung; it accounts for more of the Android device market than any of its peers so why shouldn’t it keep pushing ahead?
Regardless, I love the idea of a digital wallet. Although I haven’t used it lately, I’m a big fan of paying for goods or services through my NFC-enabled phone with Google Wallet. But the point of a digital wallet is to eliminate our big, bulky physical wallets that are filled with currency, cards and whatever else we need to carry. Do we really want to start carrying multiple digital wallet solutions on our devices or choose a phone based on what wallet features it supports? I certainly don’t.