September 10, 2013, 5:10 PM

Will Apple’s new iPhones dial up mobile commerce?

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Both of Apple’s new iPhones will use the new iOS 7 mobile operating system, which Apple announced June 10 but that only now is becoming available on iPhones and iPads. That system includes two features analysts say may also drive m-commerce: Apple’s iCloud Keychain and AirDrop. ICloud Keychain enables consumers to access their encrypted data stored in Apple’s iCloud regardless of the Apple device they use, and works similarly to auto-fill capabilities employed by many web browsers, where stored data automatically populate data fields. That may be helpful when filing out information typically required in checkout such as address and phone numbers, experts say. Keychain itself can be password-protected.

AirDrop enables users to drag and drop a file to send it wirelessly to another user on the same network. This makes file sharing easier by eliminating the need for users to connect by using complicated network configuration commands. While the correlation to mobile commerce is not as obvious for AirDrop, George Peabody, an analyst at consulting firm Glenbrook Partners LLC, says AirDrop may drive mobile commerce in stores. For example, he says a consumer might be able to send her payment and identification information to an in-store Apple device operated by the retailer. The retailer could verify the consumer’s identity using a photo included in the AirDrop content, he suggests. That technology might compete with the likes of Square Wallet where the consumer’s payment information and photo appear on the merchant’s Square Register software, he says.

At the press conference today, typically tight-lipped Apple executives disclosed that the company has now sold 700 million iOS devices, up from 400 million a year ago.


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