Intuit and AT&T have formed what Engadget calls “an unholy alliance” to create a poor, twenty-two-months-late ripoff of Square’s credit card reader for mobile devices. Go ahead and watch the video on Engadget’s site, and compare it with the experience that Square debuted two Januaries ago. Intuit and AT&T knew exactly what they had to rip off, had almost two years to do it, and still laid an egg.
Engadget says “Better watch your back, [Square co-founder] Jack [Dorsey].” But Jack was already watching his back, and Square has moved on to Card Case, a product that ditches both the reader and the card by simply knowing when you’ve arrived at your favorite haunts. The vendor knows it’s you because he’s running an app that has your picture, which is associated with your payment account. Watch the Card Case video — the best thing about it is not the cool geofencing technology or the elegant design. It’s the side effect of a business knowing you’re a regular, and perhaps even knowing what you usually order. It’s an irreplaceable improvement to the customer experience. It’s the soul of the service. It’s the part that margin-drunk giant corporations always leave out.
GoPayment is exactly the kind of uninspired thinking I would expect from a scared monopolist teaming up with a phone company.
UPDATE: Jim Dalrymple has informed me that GoPayment was announced in May 2009 on Sprint’s network, which did not carry the iPhone at the time, six months before Square’s public launch on iPhone. It’s bizarre to me that this week’s joint press release — which I did read before posting my reaction — makes no effort to position GoPayment as an existing product, but facts are facts. Crow eaten.