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    Apple planning role as mobile Trusted Service Manager?

    A new patent application sees Apple using the term ‘trusted service’, hinting at the company’s potential to play a major role as a Trusted Service Manager for mainstream mobile applications and, perhaps, for mobile payments and NFC.

    APPLE: Could the iPhone and now iPad maker parlay iTunes into a TSM?

    Yet another Apple iPhone patent application published today hints at Apple’s potential to become a mainstream Trusted Service Manager (TSM) for mobile applications — and, perhaps, for mobile payments and NFC.

    The patent application describes a Bluetooth-based social networking application for the iPhone, referred to as iGroups and does not mention near field communication. However, the service does make use of an infrastructure described as a ‘trusted service’, which would act as a central, secure clearing house for social interactions.

    A number of recent Apple patent applications have referred to NFC, including the iKey patent published last month, the Touch Screen RFID Tag Reader published in July 2009 and the Grab & Go patent revealed in November 2009. And, while there’s no confirmed date or officially announced plans, a prototype iPhone equipped with NFC or RFID was spotted late last year.

    None of the patent applications refer to mobile payments and it has been assumed that Apple’s focus is on non-payments applications. However, the mention of a ‘trusted service’ provider in the new patent application hints at the potential for something more.

    Apple’s role in iTunes, the App store and the soon to launch iBookstore is very similar to that of a trusted third party, sitting between consumers and service providers ensuring a safe and efficient service for all — and it is one that Apple has found to be highly lucrative and at which it has built up considerable experience.

    Is it too far fetched to suggest that Apple could now be seeking to leverage that knowledge to become a provider of trusted service platforms, where Apple generates revenues by safely and securely connecting consumers with suppliers in a range of different markets? And, if so, acting as the middleman enabling banks, transit operators and others to offer mobile proximity services to NFC-enabled iPhone users could be a logical next step…

    • Dan

      Not so far-fetched at all. At least as far as the iPhone goes, in one one swoop, they’d pick up a world-wide, as well as nationally-customised (a la national App Stores) TSM, for pretty much whatever they wanted to charge for, in whatever manner as well.

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