By Ben Goretsky
The battle has raged since the first personal computers hit the market: Microsoft Corp. versus Apple Inc., the Windows operating system versus Mac OS. And these giants continue to vie for dominance in computer, software and related sales. But how has this intense competition affected the bankcard industry?
With the release of Windows Vista and the ever-growing popularity of Mac OS X, the line between Microsoft's and Apple's loyal home users is almost split down the middle.
But in the payments space, up to 80% of office computers are likely using a version of Windows. Most of our merchants use Windows, too. And I have found that almost 95% of industry professionals who travel to tradeshows and other industry events use laptops loaded with Windows.
Thus, it is almost impossible to find bankcard processing software written for Apple computers. Most popular software packages in our market (VeriFone's PCCharge and Tellan Software Inc.'s PC Authorize, for example) are made for Windows.
This leaves merchants who favor Macs out of luck, unless they are willing to invest in custom solutions. This is usually something only larger retail establishments can afford.
The next frontier in the ongoing war between Microsoft and Apple is the mobile payment market. Windows Mobile has already taken a solid stand, and Apple is trying to speed up with the recently announced iPhone.
Merchants are already using applications and peripherals for credit card processing via the Windows Mobile environment. As yet, no payment processing software has been written for the iPhone.
Also, while Apple will have only one device, the iPhone, on the market, the Windows Mobile environment can already accommodate the Palm Pilot, Samsung BlackJack, HP iPAQ and more.
Since these all come loaded with Windows Mobile software, they can all support existing bankcard processing software.
In addition, price is a factor. Right now you can find a Windows Mobile-equipped smart phone for under $100; the new iPhone's least expensive model is slated to sell for $499.
Even as a Windows user, I love Apple's witty advertising. But entertainment aside, the Microsoft environment, at least right now, is the way to go when dealing with bankcard payments.
Apple computers are fun, easy to use and have interesting features no Windows machine can touch. But Apple has no juice in the payment processing arena; it's been squeezed out.
Ben Goretsky is the Chief Executive Officer and head of IT Development at USA ePay. He has been working with his brother Alex since they started the company in 1998. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 866-872-3729, ext. 350.
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