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An Apple Currency? — Medium

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Apple Strategy:

Consider: The iMac was moderately useful, and then as the internet grew, it became more so (remember Jeff Goldblum and “There is no step three!”?). The iPod was moderately useful, then months later it became supremely useful when the iTunes store opened. Same for the iPhone and the app store. This is not coincidence; it is strategy. Net assessment, even.

The narrative of Apple as “first-trillion-dollar-company” is fascinating. 

I think this truism is likely short sighted. Ergo: what if (and I’m thinking on a 10–20 year horizon here) Apple becomes the first ten-trillion-dollar company? How might it get there?


#1: As the only company to have truly mastered digital hardware, Apple will begin to play more in what I will call, “meta-software” — identity-as-a-service (why keep an RSA key fob when you have a fingerprint scanner?), or just-in-time data delivery (like what Google Now is trying to do).

#2: The forthcoming Apple Watch will be the most personal device Apple will make for the five years (e.g. no Apple Glasses before 2020). Therefore, productivity gains from engaging in the Apple walled garden are likely to come from software (see #1). This isn’t to say that Apple won’t make a television (I would guess the answer to this question is “yes” and “within five years”), just that I think that we’re about to see the lineup of personal devices made by Apple solidify for the near-term.

This part is astonishing:

#1: Just a few weeks ago, Apple issued $17bn in debt at ~1.1% — lower interest rates than many European countries.

#2: Apple already issues its own semi-currency: iTunes gift cards. You buy them with dollars, and then transform them into an electronic string of numbers that you can convert into goods and services. While this “currency” sits on your iTunes account and is denominated in dollars. And even ever-so-often the currency undergoes some measure of fluctuation.

#3: Apple maintains nation-state amounts of cash on hand.

Now, the fun part: If Apple circa 2018 masters security in a generational way. What might this look like? Something akin to the Crypt. Imagine if you could only access your iCloud data by tapping your fingerprint on the side of an Apple-branded keyboard (Think power button-meets-home button), or verifying your thumbprint through your phone? Companies already do this with critical data through those RSA keys. As this concept trickles down to lay consumer tech, a few things will happen. Having built the best walls, people will seek to place valuable things inside of them. Apple may allow this at first, but will very likely see that doing so only facilitates economic friction (i.e. intermediaries for intermediaries). What to do in this case? Replicate the things others seek to store behind their walls (such as currency, or something like it). Or replicate the processes being stored behind your crypto. And if one imagines that the thing people will seek to store with Apple is money, well, it’s not too hard to imagine Apple simply using their own advantages (read: security), and making their own money, in some way, shape, or form.

If Apple starts acting like a bank (which many have already assumed is happening), what will that look like? Will mortgages of the future take place via Apple Watch? Will Apple currency be backed by shares in the company (gives an interesting flavor to the company’s current share buyback)? Honestly I have no idea. But the hold that the idea of cryptocurrency has on the technology industry — and the fact that many large companies are moving towards payment technology both in the cloud, and using NFC-type-technologies, means that as these companies expand their reach I think there are bound to be internal arguments about creating currency-like tools. Surely Apple may decide against creating a currency, but I will bet an Apple-denominated single iTunes song (“¢.99") that somewhere in that gleaming, nascent infinity of glass someone will write a memo to Tim Cook that will at least float the idea.

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