Touch ID only the start? Cook says Apple 'intrigued' by mobile payments

Are we in for a full-fledged mobile payment service from Apple?

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Apple's old staples are selling well enough, but questions always swirl about what "one more thing" Cupertino has planned next.

Some of the most recent speculation around a future area of interest for Apple is the mobile payments space, and CEO Tim Cook brushed on the possibility of entering it during the company's earnings call today.

Cook, who refrained from levying the call's opening remarks as he normally does and stuck to fielding questions, called mobile payments an area "we've been intrigued with, and that was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID."

"So I don't have anything specific to announce today, but you can tell by looking at the demographics of our customers, and the amount of commerce that goes through iOS devices versus the competition, that it's a big opportunity for the platform," he concluded of mobile payments.

It certainly is: Apple has access to millions of users' payment information, not to mention their fingers at the ready to punch in purchases.

Throw in Touch ID, an "incredibly simple and easy and elegant" way to make purchases that Cook said consumers have gravitated to, and it looks like Apple has the fruit to turn an intriguing idea into some dollar-making juice.

But what else is next?

Mobile payments weren't the only future tech Apple hinted at.

"Hinted at" may be too generous - let's just say Apple is working on something we've yet to see from the company, though what that something is remains as close to the vest as ever.

CFO Peter Oppenheimer said in prepared remarks that Apple is investing heavily in R&D for future products and services, though he didn't elaborate on what those could be. Corporate Controller Luca Maestri also teased that the company is investing "in areas that are not visible," adding the company is "very excited about them."

When pressed on what Maestri meant, Cook expanded his comments, explaining that Apple is "working on things that are not shipping today. Things you can't see today."

We'll leave it that, then.

  • It's got to be the iWatch, right?