It was not so long ago that parents were appalled that something like a Facebook gift card could even exist. Now such gift cards are regularly earmarked for a child’s Farmville gaming, along with Google Play and iTunes gift cards, and are becoming more and more popular stocking stuffers.
Electronics retailer Best Buy has noticed a significant uptick in Pokemon-related products, portable chargers, and iTunes gift cards. What’s a Pokemon Go themed birthday party without gift card to purchase extra Pokecoins?
iTunes may be a crippled and less integral part of the Apple customer environment, but it is still the main point of purchase for so much video and music that Apple has now made it even easier for you to activate your iTunes gift card.
Similar to QR technology where your smartphone camera can pick up a sensed digital pattern, iPhones do one better by only needing to hover over a chunk of alpha-numeric code and redeems your gift card immediately.
No more trying desperately to type in a 16-digit string of random numbers and letters with your thumbs on a tiny screen, and getting it wrong three times in a row (was that an O or an 0?).
But increasing iTunes usage isn’t just limited to people wanting to game it up on their iPhone or purchase content. As part of a push to get more users to sign up with Apple Pay (Apple’s smartphone-based payment system similar to Google Wallet), U.K.-based Apple Stores have started offering a small iTunes gift card too.
According to MacRumors.com, “when making a purchase in store, Apple employees will ask customers if they would like to pay via Apple Pay. If a customer declines and does not have Apple Pay set up, employees will guide customers through the setup process to make the purchase and will offer a bonus $5 or £5 iTunes gift card for using Apple Pay as their payment method.”
By frontloading your Apple Pay account with a small bit of cash, Apple is trying hard to make your smartphone replace your credit and debit cards entirely. Anxious to emulate the cash grab Apple is now making from the gift cards, Google Android users will soon be able to pay for Netflix with a Google Play gift card, removing the need for a credit card or bank account that limited many users from experiencing the glory that is Netflix binging. So that Google Play card can now buy you mobile game goodies as well streaming content—not just purchasing content.
Between the increase in freemium gaming, the overwhelming and surprising popularity of Pokemon Go, and with Apple’s new push for Apple Pay usage, it seems like iTunes is here to stay for a while, and iTunes gift cards are only going to become a more integral part of Apple’s business strategy. Companies are moving away from a card-based payment structure in the long run, but while market forces increase the utility of gift cards in the short term, we should only expect them being pushed even harder in the months to come.