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How Steve Jobs transformed credit cards

Here are 3 ways the late founder of Apple changed how we use the plastic in our wallets.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 12, 2011 1:13PM

This post comes from Geoff Williams at partner site on MSN MoneySteve Jobs transformed the credit card industry. That's my argument, and I'm going to stick with it.


True, if you look hard enough, and judging from all of the tweets, Facebook status updates, trade magazine articles, newspaper stories and television pieces, you could probably reasonably make the argument that the late founder of Apple had a profound effect on tube socks and dental hygiene.


Luckily, I don't have to flex my creative muscles too hard to think about how Steve Jobs changed credit cards. While the inventor's relationship to the plastic in our wallets isn't as obvious as how he changed computers, telephones and music, it really isn't as far a leap as you'd think to get from Apple to American Express.


So now that I've piqued your curiosity, here are three reasons that when we think of credit cards, we should think about Jobs.


Steve Jobs changed how we handle money. Mobile banking may not yet be the rage among consumers, but it is rapidly growing. Jobs didn't invent mobile banking, but once the iPhone came around, it was apparent that a cellphone wasn't just a cellphone but a camera, a GPS locator, a jukebox, and a place to play Angry Birds. You can get apps to help you avoid speed traps and to offer up recipes for dinner. Thanks to Steve Jobs, for almost anything you can think of, "there's an app for that!"


And, yes, there are apps to help you spend money -- and save money. You can snap a photo of a paycheck and make a deposit to your checking account without leaving your cellphone. And the day isn't that far off when it'll be commonplace to wave a cellphone in front of a scanner and receive an instant discount, instead of swiping a credit card through a machine and fumbling for loose coupons in our pockets.


Jobs also helped many an entrepreneur by paving the way for all the credit card apps that allow people to make sales on the fly at trade shows, county fairs and kiosks around the country. With at least a couple dozen apps coming out in recent years, a business person can make a sale and take a credit card payment through a cellphone, simplifying the transaction and avoiding the need to handle cash or wait for checks to clear. Post continues after video.

Steve Jobs changed how we see technology. If the way Jobs thought was the way everyone thinks, we wouldn't have a show on cable called "Hoarders." There are plenty of people out there who like to hang on to what they own, which is perfectly understandable. Some people wear their shoes until the seams start to come apart. They drive their cars until they can drive no more. They still play 8-track tapes.


But Jobs made technology friendly and accessible. This encouraged us to trade in our old toys for brand-new ones and many people listened. When Jobs debuted the iPod in 2001, millions of us, no doubt, unloaded our CDs and DVDs on eBay, or used them as coasters, or simply let them collect dust in a now-obsolete CD rack.


Or make that 200 million people. One has to think that somewhere out there, a hacker became slack-jawed and had to wipe some spittle off his chin when, earlier this year to an audience in San Francisco, Jobs said that iTunes, the famed media player computer program, had 200 million accounts with credit cards and may well be "the largest database of customer accounts in the world."


More computer per credit card. It's true that Apple products aren't cheap, and there are surely millions of people around the world who can't afford or justify spending the money on them. Still, think of everyone who does have a computer. According to census figures, 76.7% of American households owned a computer back in 2009. In 1995 -- just to grab a number from back in the Stone Age of the Internet -- it was a mere 37%.


More Americans have bought computers as they've become cheaper. I was speaking recently to an early adopter -- well, my dad -- and he noted that when he once bought an extra 16 KB (kilobytes) of memory "to boost my 1982 Apple II+ from 48 to 64 KB, it cost over $100 for that extra 16 KB. Now my Apple iPad has 16 GB (gigabytes), a million times more memory."


And my father added that, for a million times more memory, "I am almost positive that it didn't cost $100 million."


In other words, thanks in large measure to the late Steve Jobs, we can put a lot more computer on our credit cards.


More on and MSN Money:

Oct 12, 2011 5:09PM

Sorry to rain on your parade but the drastic decline in hardware and software prices was due to Intel and Microsoft’s opening of the PC architecture. This allowed sw and hw manufacturers to compete for your money. Steve Jobs was a genius in design and marketing. He was also paranoid about privacy. His tenure at Apple was characterized by an obsessive determination to keep all designs under seven veils of secrecy.

Oct 13, 2011 6:56AM
Are you people ever going to get over you love lust with Jobs?  Let's just go back and credit him with the invention of the computer why won't we and electricity and Boolean Algebra (this plays a huge part in the make up of computers in the event you didn't realize this).  The increase of your memory probably comes from the tedious labor of thousands of physicist, mostly from solid state physicist.  They tirelessly research new materials, their propertites, and how to enhance them.  Also, should thank those that study optics.  Your quantum computers in the future will not be something created by Jobs either, but by those who are doing research into photonics and plasmonics i.e. getting a quanta of light to transmit data instead of electrons.  Exciting stuff.  I'll give Jobs credit where it is due, he knew how to jump on new research, knew how to hire the right teams to do such, and he knew how to make it look pretty.  The actual technical side of him, not sure his name would have ever been heard of if he didn't get in a prime spot for others to carrying him so thank you Wozniak.  The technology for the iphone was there, Apple did hop on it quicker then everyone else.
Oct 13, 2011 1:02AM
Comparing hard drive to RAM is simply not appropriate. The old Apple went from 48kRAM to 64kRAM, I am not sure how big the hard drive was but I would bet it wasn't in the k range.  I am also pretty certain the iPad doesn't have 16GB of RAM, but rather 16GB of hard drive.
Oct 13, 2011 12:13PM
Ummm...he didn't "remake plastic"......JOBS INVENTED PLASTIC.  And puppy dogs and lasers and dancing and very small rocks.
Oct 13, 2011 4:11AM
Your article makes no sense. Try again, or quit calling yourself a writer.
Oct 13, 2011 5:32AM
 ...once the iPhone came around, it was apparent that a cellphone wasn't just a cellphone but a camera, a GPS locator, a jukebox, and a place to play Angry Birds.

With the exception of Angry Birds, my HTC WM5 phone was able to do all of those things about a year before the iPhone was released.

Oct 13, 2011 12:49PM
We have to give the article credit where it's due: Apple did help transform the way credit is handled..... irresponsibly, that is.  Imagine this: before the iphone, would ANYBODY spend $300, $400, or $500 on a phone? Not a chance. Then all of a sudden people had that kind of money to spend on technology??? NO! They just put it on their credit cards.

The REAL comparison to what apple did to credit cards would be to somehow quantify how much of the iphone purchases were made with cash or debut, versus how much went onto a revolving credit account. It'd be nice to see how much apple accounts for the amount of debt some people are in.
Oct 13, 2011 2:24PM
All you poor people don't realize when you put your secure stuff (or other stuff) on the internet you are in danger of loosing your stuff. You youngsters don't see what is coming. There will be a massive shut-down sometime. Then what? How do you retrieve your info (or?) that someone else has? Keep doing what you are doing and you will suffer the error of your ways.
Oct 13, 2011 8:34AM
The iPad uses flash storage memory similar to the iPhone and iPod touch, it doesn't need to include a conventional mechanical hard drive. Apple began shifting its iPod user base toward flash-based models with the iPad nano, and accelerated the trend with the flagship iPod touch that now makes up half of all iPods sold
Oct 13, 2011 5:38AM
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