Oct 31

The largest mobile operator in the United States, Verizon, is not participating in the Apple SIM program. As I wrote two weeks ago, the Apple SIM takes power away from the mobile operators and makes it easier for customers to select, and later switch between carriers. So I understand why Verizon does not like the Apple SIM. But it’s very unlikely that Apple will suddenly change their mind because Verizon is holding out. Apple historically takes the side of customers and customer experience, and plays hardball with the carriers.

iPads that you purchase anywhere, except for at an actual Verizon store, will come with the Apple SIM. Therefore in order to activate most iPads on the Verizon network you need to go to a Verizon store and get a Verizon SIM. I’m guessing that you could also call them and navigate through their phone tree in search of someone who knows what an Apple SIM is and why you want to replace it. Then you need to physically swap the SIM cards before you can finally activate the iPad on the Verizon network.

Why would you want to make it this difficult for customers to give you money? Yes, your diehard fans (or more realistically, customer without a real choice) will jump through these hoops. But these customers are yours anyway. If you were to advertise a competive data plan alongside the other operators that work with Apple SIM, then you just might gain new customers.

Another Apple innovation, Apple Pay, is also causing companies to refuse to take customers’ money. A “competing” mobile payment network has ordered their retailers to disable their existing NFC terminals just so that customers with an iPhone 6 cannot use it to pay at their stores. (I’m deliberately placing “competing” within quotes because to compete you actually have to be in operation. And from what we’ve seen of their plans, it looks like their launch will be a stillbirth.)

This is again about power and owning the customer; specifically owning the customer’s data. There is enough money in mining customer data and avoiding credit and debit card processing fees, that these retailers are willing to go to extreme measures to prevent a better payment method (for customers) to get a foothold in the market. Short-term that might work for them. When you get to the cash register are you going to walk away from your cart just because you can’t pay with your iPhone 6? Probably not. But if you have two competing pharmacies in town and one offers your preferred payment method and the other one doesn’t, which one are you going to pick?

Acquiring new customers is very expensive. Keeping existing customers by keeping them happy is a much better strategy. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to give you money. That is a very shortsighted strategy.

written by Nick

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