Confessions of a First Time Passbook User

This morning I went to see Clint Eastwood’s new movie, Trouble With the Curve. It was pretty good.

I’d been wanting to see it as the trailers looked promising, but my experience today at the theater was only partly about the movie. The big reason why I wanted to see it was it’d give me an excuse to use Passbook. I downloaded the Fandango app last week, and finally last night purchased my ticket right from my phone. After paying my $8.00 for my “early bird” matinee, the confirmation screen in the app had a Add to Passbook button at the bottom. I tapped it and my ticket magically imported itself into Passbook in a handsome-looking template, ready and waiting to be scanned. When I arrived this morning, I launched Passbook, went straight to the ticket-taker, she scanned my phone, and I was on my way. As I waited in line at the snack bar, I tweeted that Passbook was the way of the future.

That I had such a seamless first experience with Passbook caused me to consider why the app isn’t being more supported. Even Apple isn’t supporting their own app at this point, and it’s strange. Yet, as of this writing, the ‘Apps for Passbook’ section of the App Store lists just these:

  • American Airlines
  • Fandango
  • Live Nation
  • Lufthansa
  • MLB.com At Bat
  • MLB.com At the Ballpark
  • Sephora to Go
  • Target
  • Ticketmaster
  • United Airlines
  • Walgreens

That’s eleven apps. I know iOS 6 is barely two weeks old, but that isn’t exactly a crowded bandwagon. In hindsight, it seems odd that between iOS 6’s introduction at WWDC this past June and the iPhone 5 event of a few weeks ago, there weren’t more partnerships forged. You’d think Scott Forstall would’ve put up a slide with company logos and say something like And these apps all are integrated with Passbook, but he didn’t. Starbucks is going to be late on their promise of delivering Passbook support by the end of September. As I said, I know iOS 6 and Passbook are in their infancy, but it just seems odd that a marquee feature of the new OS is skimpy on the backing. I guess what I’m saying is I figured Apple to have briefed developers beforehand on Passbook, and ask if they’d be interested in supporting it. Maybe they did and no one was interested (highly unlikely), maybe the app wasn’t yet ready (likely), but, again, the paltry number of supporters thus far just feels weird. Then again, perhaps Passbook isn’t at the top of Apple’s list of concerns right now -- and with the Maps debacle, it rightfully shouldn’t be -- which could explain their conspicuous absence from their own creation, and the apparent lack of promotion.

All this having been said, I fully realize that Passbook will improve, and more companies will rush to support it. What I’ve written here is just me sharing my perception of the app, though I know a one-time use case is a smaller than small sample size. I think Matthew Panzarino sums up Passbook best this way (emphasis mine):

Passbook isn’t actually that complicated. Once it’s in practice, you’ll come across the moments that you’ll use them organically. Initially it feels awkward because you’re ‘looking’ for reasons to use it and maybe there aren’t any good ones. But, as people integrate it, the ‘Add to Passbook’ button will show up on more and more checkout screens and in more confirmation emails.

Panzarino says it way more succintly than I have. Perfect description.

Despite Passbook’s awkwardness, I can say with much confidence that using it this morning felt exhilarating. Without a doubt, Passbook is the way of the future in that Jetsons, flying-cars-and-jetpacks-and-shit sense. 

It's a really cool app, and I'm excited to watch it mature over time.