A new report out of the Wall Street Journal today says that Google is looking to wake up its Wallet mobile payments app from its catatonic state. By the time its annual I/O developers’ conference rolls around this summer, apparently Google will have a new and improved version of Wallet ready to show off – though the revision won’t come without a cost for Google.
According to the report, Google is in the process of figuring out a new and better way for device-makers, banks, wireless carriers, and payment networks (like Square and PayPal, presumably) to promote Google Wallet and make it a viable selling point for Android phones. To do that, the report says that Google might offer its partners more revenue for usage, which could make it a more attractive proposition to partners who didn’t do much to push Wallet before Apple Pay exploded onto the scene. The article adds, however, that wireless carriers might be interested in helping Google with Wallet since Apple Pay nets them no revenue. If Wallet could start funneling money into their pockets, suddenly Google’s mobile payments system sounds like a good deal.
It’s important to remember that in the world of mobile payments, Google Wallet predates Apple Pay by a few years. But the head start hardly seems to have mattered, since Apple Pay has become one of the hottest new iPhone features around. As such, Google needs to not only remind consumers about Google Wallet, but actually get them to use it in order to stay competitive and be an attractive alternative to the iPhone.
Complicating matters, as the article rightly points out, is the fact that Samsung this week acquired LoopPay, which is clearly an effort to bring its own exclusive mobile payments system to its phones. Yet again, Samsung is looking to go its own way without relying on Google. And considering that Samsung is still the top dog in terms of making and selling Android smartphones, that’s kind of a problem.
When you add in the fact that, Samsung notwithstanding, Google has little to no control over the vast majority of phones that run Android, and you’re fighting an uphill battle against Apple and its hardware-software one-two punch.
That’s not all, either. Where does this news leave Plaso, the recently rumored system being experimented over at Google? Are these two initiatives one and the same? Is Plaso just some weird outlier that has nothing to do with, well, anything?