Taking Care of Business (Cards)

Business Cards Are (Once Again) Re-imagined For A Digital World

When Apple came out with Apple Pay, I felt like the future was in my hands. That seamless transfer of dollar bills floating invisibly to vendors – taxi cab drivers, Duane Reade cashiers, one too many online shopping sites – the ‘no hassle’ feel was blissful if not dangerous for my bank account, and something that only Apple iPhone users were in on. Of course we were, it’s Apple – we get everything first.

But it looks like the cows have finally come home. MOO just released something they call Business Cards+. The demo video is something out of the future. Tiny wall-E-like robots are shown assembling cards, from printing, to lasering on a mysterious square with what becomes clear afterwards, is all of your information and actions – you can have your name, address, website, LinkedIn, all your social accounts and more. The cards are as custom as fingerprints; your fingerprint.

As the website suggests “Business Cards+ are high quality printed business cards, embedded with an NFC chip that triggers personalized digital Actions. With one tap of a Business Card+ (against an NFC enabled device), you can display your chosen information – like your website, or online shop or downloadable app.”

You create a card with a design and functionality of your choosing and, voila! Next time you are at a networking function, you can rub shoulders and tap Business Cards+ with who’s who.

Revolutionary? Yes.

Except it’s not. Not because it isn’t a great product. Not because it isn’t sexy. It’s because, MOO’s Business Cards+ is not compatible with Apple’s iPhone.

Say what?

According to Fast Company, the technology only jives with Android and Windows phones. Well technically speaking. Newer iPhones (6 or higher) do have the NFC chip (near field communication) which could allow for this to work. It’s how Apple Pay is able to function. But for now it’s a closed system. Unless the big fruit decides to allow NFC to be used for something else, (something like Business Cards+) near field communication in iPhone remains only capable of helping to me buy things more easily.

This isn’t the first time.  Does anyone remember QR Codes? What about Bump? A now defunct-Google app, similar mobile-to-mobile sharing. Or what about the company who sought to digitize info with a tap? Rebecca Hiscott writes an article entitled “High-Tech Business Cards Digitize Contact Info With a Tap” appearing on Mashable in February 2014, that hails a release from “TouchBase Technologies, an MIT startup that proposed a new option that falls somewhere between a traditional business card and the mostly unpopular digital alternatives already on the market.”

For all of the #firsts that Apple brings to us to make our lives easier, this is something useful that they just can’t. Or won’t. Or maybe will, but no one knows when. As an iPhone owner and as a freelancer, I think it’s safe to say, I could benefit from something like MOO’s product. (Think of all the networking!) But I’m not about to get myself an Android or Windows phone. Mine works just fine. Plus, say what you will about brand-whoring, but Apple has that penchant to be the gadget of choice for a lot – if not all – designers, illustrators, photographers, typographers, fine artists, writers, and creatives in general, at least that I know of. You wouldn’t walk into an agency to find people milling away on PCs.

An ADC member says “I think it would be exponentially useful to open the technology because like you said, most designers and creatives I know are all on the Apple system.  This type of product is a perfect way of blending the traditional practice of having a physical card to hand people, but also opens up this new ability to instantly be gratified with the content someone is trying to share.  This makes me wonder about the possibility of the future of not only business cards, but also of other documents and ‘archaic’ objects; bridging the world between objects and technology to have a dual-functionality.”

Chad Jennings, Product & Design Manager at MOO says “we feel like we’re introducing a platform that illustrates real, engaging uses beyond…advertising and marketing…and Apple will come over to team NFC in the future.”

And so please, dear Apple, for the love of everything that is beautiful in the world that has been created on your slick machines, get on board. Because print is not dead. Because we want a seamless way to share, info, work and more with others. Because business cards are not going anywhere. Unlock our phones so we can use a tool that might help us to unlock our potential.

Because for all our high-tech tools, swapping business cards is a time-honored tradition between professionals that is here to stay.