Nearer Than We Thought: Brand Experiences Have to Embrace Apple’s NFC Revolution

Sure, there wasn’t all that much at Apple’s big reveal last week that was gobsmackingly innovative.

Apple is a design company first, and pure technical innovation doesn’t always make for great design.  I know this for a fact, having had the 1990s Motorola as a client.  Great engineering and innovation doesn’t always shake out as consumer usefulness.

It’s the aggregation of ideas under the mantle of “design thinking” that counted in Cupertino.

It’s been well-thought-out from a usability standpoint.  With esthetics as compelling as function.  Or that compel function.  That “winding stem” on the Apple Watch: I can’t wait to play with it, same as the touchwheel interface on an old iPod.  It summons engagement.

That’s why the Apple Pay platform will succeed.  Because every “usability” facet of the Apple ecosystem is actually designed to inspire action.  Because it’s built on lessons learned from the success and failure of others.  Because Apple’s user base allows it to scale almost immediately.  To hundreds of thousands of locations.

That’s a tipping point, all right.  Because every platform-maker who’s failed to inspire adoption of their own system (Google, Samsung, et al) will be forced to step up.

What’s this mean for brand experiences?

It means near-field-communications are here.  The “internet of things” is upon us.  Sooner than we expected, seems like.

Or wanted?

Because when a retail environment adopts Apple Pay, and begins its give-and-take with Apple Watches and iPhones in earnest, when you can walk into a GNC and the health tracking software on your device reminds you which supplement to buy, and you debit it with a wave of the wrist on your way out the door even while a digital bounceback coupon or content exclusive is being pushed your way, then all our shiny brand experiences and mobile tours and e-tailtainment activations will need to measure up.

Will need to evolve quickly, in fact.  To align with a newer, more frictionless world, where handing a consumer a coupon or delivering an experience that’s merely “live” and not metagrated — simultaneously integrated at the live, mobile, social and CRM levels — will paint you as hopelessly retrograde.

MetagrationA demo event won’t just physically pimp those great new athletic shoes or appliance or electric-solar-fuel-cell Ubermobile.  Marketers will be able made a digital connection with every consumer in the room and give them a personalized pitch or incentive.  Or sell them a product right on the spot.

If a marketer is able to deliver a virtual experience with hair-raising immediacy, why bother with the store channel?

An Amazon drone can drop the purchase right in my lap.

The dimensions of what’s feasible in an NFC-powered, multi-layered environment are endless.  The opportunities are mind-boggling.

Gobsmacking, if you will.

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