Mobile apps integrated with Passbook are already getting a boost from being featured in Apple’s digital wallet, rolled out with the release of iOS 6. Brands that embraced Passbook at launch, including Fandango, Ticketmaster, Target and Walgreens, now rank among the top 10 most downloaded free apps in the App Store.
A Fandango spokesperson said downloads had “skyrocketed” since Passbook debuted last week, incorporating the company’s Mobile Ticket feature allowing users to receive movie tickets as mobile barcodes to avoid lines at the theater.
“Passbook integration is definitely helping drive downloads,” said the Fandango spokesperson, without disclosing actual numbers of downloads or ticket sales attributed to the partnership with Apple.
He added that Fandango typically ranks among the top 25 downloads in the entertainment category in the App Store, but has shot up to No. 9 among all free apps as of Tuesday. Target and Walgreens were just ahead in the App Store rankings, at Nos. 7 and 8, with Ticketmaster at No. 10.
“Traffic to our iPhone app has been very strong the past week," said Target in a statement. "We think Passbook has absolutely created excitement among our guests along with the introduction of Target Mobile Coupons now being available in the Target app.”
The retail outlet is allowing customers to access its mobile coupons through the Passbook app, while Walgreens is providing a digital version of its loyalty card via the wallet. Sephora, which also offers a loyalty card in Passbook, hasn’t joined the other brands on the App Store’s top 10 app list. But TechCrunch reported on Friday that its “Beauty Insider” card was added to 20,000 users’ Passbooks within two days of iOS 6’s availability.
While such anecdotal information related to Passbook is just starting to trickle out, research firm IHS iSuppli last week projected that the addition of Passbook to iOS 6 and its own maps will help Apple increase the App Store’s revenue 70% to $4.9 billion this year. (The maps part of that prediction isn’t looking as good, in light of the Apple Maps debacle.)
Ian Fogg, senior principal analyst for mobile at IHS, suggested on Tuesday that much of the download activity tied to Passbook stems from the intense interest surrounding any new Apple product or software update. What really matters with Passbook, though, isn’t the initial burst of downloads, but whether people continue to use the wallet on an ongoing basis.
He said what is important is “a habitual behavior that’s boosting the performance of an app in terms of the business model or economics of that app over the period. That’s really the key metric to look for here," Fogg noted, "not whether an app has a short-term boost to its downloads.”
Still, he calls Passbook a bold move by Apple because it reflects an effort to extend iOS from the digital realm into a tool for navigating the physical world. “The things that you put in Passbook are things that connect you to the real world, and that is part of Apple’s overall goal with iOS 6, which is to take their success with the digital content ecosystem…and extend something into the real world,” he said.