Apple Inc.'s mobile-payment service will finally be available this fall on websites, though only through its Safari browser, shutting out users of Google's Chrome and possibly limiting Apple Pay's adoption by online retailers.
Safari commanded 13 percent of the browser market in May, behind leader Chrome with 59 percent, according to W3Counter. That could give some pause to online retailers, which would need to embed an Apple Pay button into their websites to offer the option, according to Thad Peterson, an analyst at research firm Aite Group, who called the Safari-only service "limiting."
"PayPal may already be on the website, in which case the merchant may decide they don't need to do this," Peterson said in an interview. "Merchants have to deal with a lot of different ways to pay, and it can get very complex at the bottom of the shopping cart. Choice can diminish sales."
Apple didn't immediately return a request for comment about limiting the payment service to users of the Safari browser.
Apple has been known to limit features to its own devices to boost hardware sales. So it's unlikely Apple Pay for the web will be expanded to rival browsers, said Roger Kay, president of consultant Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc.
"It's of course limited outside the Apple ecosystem, but Apple never cared much about that," Kay said.
In physical stores, while its usage overall is still small, Apple Pay has been the most popular mobile-payment service in the U.S. Available in multiple countries, Apple Pay has been adding 1 million new users per week, Apple said earlier this year. At its Worldwide Developers Conference Monday in San Francisco, the company said Target Corp., Expedia Inc., Etsy Inc., United Airlines and a number of other businesses will be adding Apple Pay to their websites this fall.
Shoppers using Safari on their Mac computers, iPhones and iPads can buy items online by swiping their finger across an iPhone sensor, as they do when shopping in brick and mortar stores, Craig Federighi, a senior vice president at Apple, said in a presentation at the conference. Authentication can also be done using an Apple Watch, he said.
The feature will help retailers speed up and simplify the checkout process by making it unnecessary for customers to type in credit-card numbers. That may help reduce the number of customers who abandon their shopping carts before paying, Ajay Kapur, chief executive officer of Moovweb, which adapts websites for mobile devices.
Apple Pay for the web should help Apple ramp up its financial business. Apple takes a cut of transactions that go through its service in the U.S.
It doesn't yet "provide a meaningful financial contribution at this point, but as we look at the amount of transactions that are going through Apple Pay right now and we think ahead for the long term, that could be an interesting business for us as well," Luca Maestri, the company's chief financial officer, said on Apple's April earnings call. The business's profitability is "significantly higher than company average," he said.
IPhone and iPad users can already make purchases using Apple Pay in apps, and soon they'll be able to do so through Apple Watch apps, such as ordering a car with Lyft.