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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Seamlessness and Google Wallet

I want to be mad at Google. I really do. When they screw up, it's so monumentally public, as in the nymwars. But then I read a story, and realize, just maybe, that there might be some kind of underlying method to their madness. I just read a story via Virtual News Now that seems to support this cockamamie concept. The complete story is from

Permit me to quote a few paragraphs from the end of the article:
(Google Vice President of Payments Osama Bedier says) it is not being in both the online and physical worlds that is key. It is moving seamlessly, stealthily between the two … in and out as if there were no separation. Where Groupon connected the dots between physical and online, Bedier wants to erase the dots.

He talks about the future retail experience like a kid describing a new game console. Imagine when any offer you see online can be instantly added to your phone with a quick tap. If you choose, these offers can even be pushed to you based on your preferences and current location. Enter your local grocery store and receive a reminder of your frequently purchased items, your shopping list and a series of special offers on items you might enjoy.

He says that eventually the actual items will be tagged with NFC chips rather than bar codes. Tap them as you fill your cart and then tap the phone on the payment terminal as you exit the store. No more lines.

Even in this idyllic discussion, he can’t avoid one more inadvertent nose tweak to another audience subset. He circles back correcting himself, explaining that you won’t even need to tap at the payment terminal because the phone will be the POS too.

“The consumer holds the payment tool and the terminal,” he laughs. “POS today is an artifact of the old way. Smart phones are more capable.”

The conference moderator reminds him, only half-jokingly, that a number of POS terminal manufacturers are also in the room.

He grins. “That comment wasn’t for them.”

My own ideas of seamlessness go as far back as early concepts of the semantic web. I had idyllic notions of just asking a search engine where something was, and instead of X number of lists, I'd get one correct answer. One. What it was, where it was located, if it had a price and how much, etc. On a wireless PDA. Palm was the reigning champ then. Phones were just reducing from bricks to candy bars by then.

Doggone it, Google, stop messing with my head. Either I'm going to hate you and leave you, or you're going to be that lover who breaks my heart, but keeps begging for forgiveness and lavishing me with tantalizing "I'm sorry" gifts.