Just as the new ‘Apple Card’ is launched in the US, Apple has listed several surfaces and materials that could damage and discolour the coated titanium card – including denim and leather.

Apple Card

The newly launched (in the US) no fees, instant cash-back Apple Card is a partnership between Apple and Goldman Sachs with processing by Mastercard.  The Apple Card is operated through the Wallet app on iPhone (iPhone 6 and later) and is accompanied by a physical laser-etched card, made of coated titanium and with no card number, no CVV security code, and no expiration date or signature on it. 

Soft Materials Are Best

Unfortunately for Apple, just as the Card’s online blurb was unveiled to the world some of the media’s attention was diverted to Apple’s advice about how to “safely” store and carry the card rather than to its security features.

Some online commentators couldn’t fail to notice that for a sleek looking, titanium card, it appears to be vulnerable to damage and discolouration from some of the ways that customers may expect to carry and store a normal plastic credit card.

For example, according to Apple’s own card-care advice, the Apple Card may be vulnerable to discolouration and damage from:

  • Storing the card in the card in a slot in a wallet or billfold touching another credit card.
  • Coming into contact with fabrics, like leather and denim, which may cause permanent discolouration that will not wash off.
  • Placing the card in a pocket or bag that contains loose change, keys, or other potentially abrasive objects.
  • Placing the Apple Card near magnets (which could de-magnetize the strip).

The Coating

Apple says on its website that it is the multi-layered coating on the card that gives the card its white finish that could be damaged or discoloured, and not the titanium card beneath.  Although titanium is a very reactive metal, it is known for its strength and its corrosion resistance in oxidising acid environments.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Some commentators see this as a gaffe by Apple as the launch of something that sees Apple make a major move into services has been slightly tarnished itself by what appears to be either a problem with the coating of the Apple Card, or Apple giving out a bit too much information about the care of the card, or a bit of both. 

Expecting customers to keep the Apple Card in its own separate bag made of only soft materials may be a little unrealistic and impractical, and it remains to be seen how the card fares in the real world and what stories come from the first users of the card, and whether the card is as susceptible to damage as the Apple website appears to indicate.

This story is also an example to businesses of how attempts to differentiate products and services and to add value should be carefully thought through and tested before public launches, and products that customers are familiar with need to be at least as convenient and practical to use as competing products.